Date of Conferral





Public Health


James Rohrer


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) are conditions that represent significant and ongoing medical costs, including frequent emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, work absences, and disability. This retrospective cross-sectional study, examined the effects of the frequent ED visits due to COPD and CHF on the beneficiaries of Medicare and Medicaid in Maryland. The goal was to identify the factors that led these patients to visit the ED, the impact of these visits on Medicare utilization and costs across Maryland, and preventative intervention strategies to control this population's costs of care. Secondary data were analyzed from 2010-2012 using the Administrative Claims Data in Chronic Condition Warehouse (CCW). The results for the first research question revealed that an increase in the number of primary care physicians was correlated with a decrease in ED visits; thus, persons living in areas with higher PCPs also had lower ED visits therefore the first null hypothesis was rejected (Ï?2 = 3.85, p=.05) . The results for the second research question revealed that ED visits had no significant relationship with death in a given year; thus, patients may be diverted to less expensive care sites to minimize cost and ED overcrowding, therefore the second null hypothesis was not rejected (Ï?2 = 0, p=.98). In both cases, the confounding variables of gender, age, and race had significant effects upon the relationship. Health Professionals and policy makers may use the findings to develop strategies to increase supply of PCPs, adapt patient centered interventions and modify existing chronic disease care strategies to minimize or prevent lifestyle and environmental factors that affect chronic disease outcomes. Such improvements could contribute to positive social change by eliminating or reducing the overcrowding that occurs in emergency departments in Maryland and other states.