Emergency Department Use for Injuries by Adolescents in Foster Care

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Youth in foster care are overrepresented with respect to their utilization of emergency department (ED) services. This study examines the ED utilization patterns of adolescents in foster care and evaluates the characteristics of injury related versus non-injury related visits. We found that adolescents in foster care have high rates of ED use (1.84 visits per year (95% CI 1.59, 2.12)), with 31.2% of ED visits being injury-related. Male gender was found to be the only independent predictor of having an injury related vs. non-injury related ED visit (odds ratio 2.22 (95% CI 1.27–3.87)). Regarding the mechanisms of injury, adolescent youth in group homes were significantly more likely to present with injuries inflicted by themselves or by others in their residence (p < 0.05 for both) but less likely to present with accidental injuries or injuries sustained during recreation (p < 0.05 for both). Resources and interventions targeted at both youth and group home staff related to behavioral health assessment, post-traumatic coping skills and conflict management may have beneficial effects.



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