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It may come as no surprise to healthcare industry veterans, but there are fresh data that shed new light on greater utilization of emergency rooms by pediatric patients in neighborhoods viewed as disadvantaged. Statistically, kids who live in “low opportunity” areas are roughly 33% more likely to visit an urgent care center or the ED than children who grow up elsewhere. It’s not just scratchy throats and sudden fevers sending them there, either; the less-advantaged young patient is nearly twice as likely to seek care for assault-related injuries than others. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco defined an area of low opportunity based on the percentage of schoolchildren who qualify to receive a free lunch; their proficiency in reading and math; access to early childhood education, health facilities, healthy food, and parks and open spaces; the proportion of college-educated adults; and local unemployment and public-assistance rates. The findings were published online in the journal Pediatrics last week.

Less-Advantaged Kids Use the ED and Urgent Care More Often
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