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ED Visits, Physician’s Office Use Higher Among Crohn’s Disease Patients

According to recent research presented at the 2016 Advances in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Conference, Patients with Crohn’s disease utilize emergency departments (ED) and physician’s offices more frequently than patients with ulcerative colitis

“Though there are many overlapping features of clinical presentations among inflammatory bowel disease patients, there are key differences between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis that make Crohn’s disease more prone to severe symptomatology,” Ali Khan, MPH, of the division of gastroenterology and liver disease at George Washington University, and colleagues wrote in their presentation. “Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, the full thickness of the bowel wall, and have skip lesions, whereas ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon, affects only the mucosa, and manifests as continuous colonic inflammation.”

In order to study evaluate health care utilization between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients, the researchers reviewed electronic health records from a single academic health center. The researchers gathered various data including demographics, ED visits, physician office visits, phone calls, and email communications with physicians’ offices. 

Dr Khan and colleagues found that of the 831 inflammatory bowel disease-related health care events recorded, 54% were among patients with Crohn’s disease. They also found that patients with Crohn’s disease made up 8% of ED visits and 56% of physician’s office visits—compared to 11% of ED visits and 47% of physician’s office visits among patients with ulcerative colitis.

“This further supports a less urgent need for medical attention among ulcerative colitis patients as they may experience less severe symptoms,” Dr Khan and colleagues concluded. “Our study emphasizes the need for improved anticipation of the health care needs of Crohn’s disease patients to ultimately reduce costs related to inflammatory bowel disease treatment.” —David Costill

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