The Particulars: Previous research indicates that frequent users of the ED, or “frequent flyers,” pose significant challenges to providers and have more psychiatric, psychosocial, and substance abuse issues than the general population. Less is known about this population’s demographics, most common presenting diagnosis, and emergency services use patterns.
Data Breakdown: A data analysis of emergency psychiatric visits from 2006 to 2011 found that frequent flyers represented less than 2.2% of total ED visits. Frequent flyers were 68.9% male, had an average age of 40.55 years, had an average of 10.37 visits over 5 years, and most commonly had substance use as a primary diagnosis (58.3%). Other common diagnoses were anxiety disorders (15.2%) and schizophrenia and psychotic disorders (13.2%). Frequent flyers generally presented with more than one diagnosis.
Take Home Pearl: Frequent flyers with psychiatric diagnoses appear more likely to present to the ED with substance abuse, schizophrenia, or psychotic disorders than with anxiety or mood disorders.