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Office Visits to Orthopedic Surgeons

For Release: Monday, October 7, 1998


Contact: NCHS Press Office (301) 458-4800


No. 302.  Office Visits to Orthopedic Surgeons:  United States, 1995-96. 32 pp. (PHS) 98-1250 [PDF - 669 KB]

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has issued a report documenting office visits to orthopedic surgeons over the period 1995-96. Some of the findings in the report include:

  • During 1995-96, an estimated 76.5 million office visits were made to orthopedic surgeons, an average of 38.3 million visits per year, resulting in an annual rate of 14.5 visits per 100 persons.
  • More than 6 of every 10 visits made to orthopedic surgeons were injury related. While this specialty accounted for about 5 percent of all injury-related office visits, it saw 28 percent of all injury-related office visits.
  • The visit rate to orthopedic surgeons increased with each age group up to 45-64 years. For age groups 45-64 years, 65-74 years, and 75 years and over, there were no significant differences in visit rates.
  • About 4 of every 10 visits were the result of a referral by another physician, and one-quarter of all visits were made by new patients.
  • Orthopedic surgery visits were more likely to be covered by insured, fee-for-service arrangements compared with visits to other surgical specialties, but were less likely to be paid under an HMO\prepaid plan.
  • Six of every 10 visits were due to a symptom referable to the musculoskeletal system. Knee symptoms were mentioned most frequently by either sex. Back and shoulder symptoms were also prominent.
  • The most frequent principal diagnosis was fracture of lower limb, cited at 8.6 percent of visits overall, and 14.2 percent of visits by persons under the age of 25.
  • X-rays were ordered or provided at more than one-third (38.6 percent) of orthopedic surgery visits, compared with 5.4 percent of visits to other surgical specialties.
  • Three of every 10 visits to orthopedic surgeons (30.8 percent) included medication therapy, compared with 45.2 percent of visits to other surgical specialties. Drugs used for pain relief accounted for more than one-half of the medications reported at orthopedic surgery visits.
  • Between 1975 and 1996, the rate of visits to orthopedic surgeons did not change significantly for persons under 45 years of age, but increased for those in the age groups 45-64 years, 65-74 years, and 75 years and over.
  • The report, "Office Visits to Orthopedic Surgeons: United States, 1995-96," Advance Data Number 302, is based on data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, conducted by NCHS.




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