Unnecessary ED visits cost Virginians $91M

The Virginia Health Information agency estimates that about 13% of emergency department (ED) visits in 2018 could have been avoided, saving approximately $91M.


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Using data from the Virginia All Payer Claims Database (APCD), the agency found the total cost of avoidable ED visits to be $103 million and the cost of similar care by a primary care provider (PCP) would have cost $12 million.

According to the data, 30% of the total unnecessary visits were for upper respiratory infection, costing $385 per visit compared to $77 at a PCP. Twenty-one percent of the visits were for urinary tract infections, which cost an average of $938 per visit versus $79 at a PCP.

In 2020, unnecessary office visits increased in the commonwealth by 2.8%, which is less than the national average of 8.8%.

Overall, Virginia’s hospitals outperformed the national average in 78% of all Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality measures. Virginia achieved a higher than average score in 54% of the measures and lower scores in 40% of the measures.