Pneumonia a leading cause of emergency department visits in Canada last year: Report

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Pneumonia was one of the top-10 reported reasons Canadians went to the emergency department (ED) last year, according to a report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

There were nearly 135,000 pneumonia-related ED visits in Canada in 2017-18, marking a 13 per cent increase from the year before, stated CIHI.  More than 1 in 4 reported ED visits for pneumonia resulted in the patient being admitted to the hospital for at least 1 night.

The report ranked pneumonia as the 9th leading cause for those visits during that time frame.

“We see it in all age groups but those people with chronic diseases certainly are more susceptible to pneumonia and it certainly takes them longer to recover” says Anne Overhoff, Chief Nursing Officer with Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay


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“Pneumonia is a serious illness and continues to be a concern in our emergency departments. As we approach the colder months, this new data is a timely reminder to all Canadians to take action to prevent pneumonia. Practising good hygiene, getting vaccinated and following advice from our public health units are good tips this time of year,” said Greg Webster, CIHI’s director of Acute and Ambulatory Care Information Services.

Abdominal and pelvic pain, throat and chest pain, and acute upper respiratory infection were the top 3 main reasons for visits, together resulting in approximately 1 million reported ED visits last year.

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According to CIHI, visits to Canadian EDs continues to climb.  In 2017–2018, there were more than 11.4 million reported ED visits, compared with 11.2 million in 2016–2017.

Despite the increases, year-over-year wait times remained relatively stable, with longer waits in the evenings and on weekends, as well as differences seen across hospitals.


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