CDC’s Sickle Cell Data Collection Program Data Useful in Describing Patterns of Emergency Department Visits by Californians with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)

Photo of emergency entrance of hospital

Medical care for children and adults living with sickle cell disease (SCD) is often provided in the emergency department (ED) within hospitals or clinics when problems cannot be successfully treated at home or during a doctor’s office visit. How frequently a patient uses the ED may also be related to healthcare system factors, such as lack of access to health care, few or no SCD healthcare experts located nearby, or inadequate or no insurance coverage to pay for medical services. Previous research suggests that between one-half and two-thirds of SCD patients’ ED visits end in a discharge from the ED, called a treat-and-release visit. The remainder result in admission to a hospital or other treatment facility.

About This Study

The purpose of this study was to use data from the Sickle Cell Data Collection (SCDC) program to

  1. Describe patterns of use of the ED for treat-and-release visits by California’s SCD population; and
  2. Compare and contrast these new findings with results of previous studies.

ED and hospital discharge data from 2005-2014 were studied to determine the patterns of ED treat-and-release for people with SCD in California.

Key findings from this report are highlighted below and we invite you to read the scientific summary of the article.

Main Findings

  • Among 4,636 patients with SCD in California, almost 9 in 10 had one or more treat-and-release ED visits during the 10 year study period (2005-2014).
  • The average number of visits each year to the ED for the participants in the study was 2.1 visits.
  • In a single year,
    • About 5 in 10 patients with SCD had no treat-and-release ED visits (No ED use),
    • About 3 in 10 patients had between 1 and 3 visits (Low ED use),
    • About 1 in 10 patients had between 4 and 10 visits (Medium ED use), and
    • About 1 in 30 patients had 11 or more visits (High ED use).
  • Younger adults and older adults had a greater number of ED visits than pediatric patients (patients who were children).

Researchers can study these ED visits to better understand the changes in health care and health policy that might lead to the improvement and extension of life for people with SCD.

More Information


Paulukonis ST, Feuchtbaum L, Coates TD, Neumayr LD, Treadwell MJ, Vichinsky EP, Hulihan MM. Emergency Department Utilization by Californians with Sickle Cell Disease, 2005-2014. Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 2016 Dec 21. Published online ahead of print.