Effect of the Presence of Emergency Departments With 300 or More Hospital Beds in Health Service Areas on 30-Day Mortality in Korea: A Nationwide Retrospective Cross-sectional Study

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Emergency Medicine, Seoul Metropolitan Government-Seoul National University Boramae Medical Center, Seoul, South Korea

2 Division of General Internal Medicine, Section of Biomedical Informatics and Data Science, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA

3 Center for Public Healthcare, National Medical Center, Seoul, South Korea

4 Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Seoul Metropolitan Government-Seoul National University Boramae Medical Center, Seoul, South Korea

5 Department of Health Policy and Management, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea


Disparities in emergency care accessibility exist between health service areas (HSAs). There is limited evidence on whether the presence of an emergency department (ED) that exceeds a certain hospital bed capacity is associated with emergency patient outcomes at the regional level. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of HSAs with or without of regional or local emergency centers with 300 or more hospital beds (EC300 or nEC300, respectively) by comparing the 30-day mortality of patients with severe emergency diseases (SEDs) admitted to the hospital through the ED.
The study retrospectively evaluated data from the National Health Information Database (NHID) of the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) Claims database and enrolled patients who were admitted from the ED for SEDs. SEDs were defined using ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision) codes for 28 disease categories with high severity, and 56 HSAs were designated as published by the NHIS. We performed hierarchical logistic regression analysis using multilevel models with the generalized linear mixed model (GLIMMIX) procedure to evaluate whether EC300 was associated with the 30-day mortality of SED patients, adjusting for patient-level, prehospital-level, hospital-level, and HSA-level variables.
In total, 662 478 patients were analyzed, of whom 54 839 (8.3%) died within 30 days after hospital discharge. Of the 56 HSAs, 46 (82.1%) were included in the EC300 group. After adjustment for patient-level, prehospital-level, hospital-level, and HSA-level variables, nEC300 was significantly associated with increased 30-day mortality in SED patients (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 1.33, 95% CI: 1.137-1.153). In addition, patients who visited EDs with fewer annual SED admissions were associated with higher 30-day mortality.
nEC300 had a greater risk of 30-day mortality in patients treated with SEDs than EC300. The results indicate that not only the number of EDs in each HSA is important for ensuring adequate patient outcomes but also the presence of EDs with adequate receiving capacity.


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Articles in Press, Corrected Proof
Available Online from 17 March 2024
  • Receive Date: 06 March 2023
  • Revise Date: 25 January 2024
  • Accept Date: 16 March 2024
  • First Publish Date: 17 March 2024