Background: Care provided within emergency departments (ED) for non-traumatic dental conditions (NTDC) is expensive, those seeking care often only receive palliative treatment, and as a result conditions become so severe that the diagnosis necessitates an inpatient (IP) admission to ensure appropriate and timely medical treatment.
Methods: An analysis of ED utilization and IP admissions for NTDC in Texas was conducted using data from Texas Emergency Department Public Use Data File and Texas Hospital Inpatient Public Use Data File requested from the Texas Department of State Health Services (calendar year 2016). Rates per 100,000 of the Medicaid-enrolled population were calculated using data from Texas Health and Human Services.
Results: There were 122,096 ED visits for NTDC in 2016 with an average charge of $1,853. 4,692 patients were admitted due to the complex nature of the condition and required treatment, these admissions were significantly more expensive and carried an average charge of $46,198. Twenty-one percent of the ED visits were by patients with Medicaid and cost on average, $1,692 per visit. 15% (n=700) of IP admissions for NTDC were by patients with Medicaid, at an average cost of $42,726 per stay. In total, 10 patients died as a result of NTDC.
Conclusion: Public insurance payed for more than a third of all charges for emergency and inpatient treatment for NTDC in the state of Texas. Shifting the focus towards prevention and disease management will reduce the inefficiencies in healthcare resources and could positively impact the overall health and well-being of all Texans.