Publications / California Emergency Departments — 2023 Edition

California Emergency Departments — 2023 Edition

California Emergency Department: A Critical Source of Care

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California’s emergency departments (EDs) provide a critical source of health care to people with acute medical conditions and those who have experienced trauma or injury. EDs are expected to treat all patients regardless of their ability to pay. They also provide an important entry point for inpatient hospital care. In 2021, 325 acute care hospitals in California operated a licensed ED. Between 2011 and 2021, the number of EDs remained relatively stable, while the number of individual treatment stations increased 21% from 7,168 to 8,667. In 2021 California’s EDs handled 12.9 million visits, 7% more than in 2011.

California’s Emergency Departments: A Critical Source of Care looks at the most recent data on supply, visits, and wait times, as well as trends from 2011 to 2021.

Selected Findings

This slideshow displays highlights from the full report, which is available for download below.

Key Findings Include:

  • The number of ED treatment stations increased in all regions throughout the state between 2011 and 2021, even in those regions that experienced a decrease in emergency departments.
  • In 2021, emergency department visits per 1,000 residents ranged from a low of 267 in Orange County to a high of 420 in the Northern and Sierra region.
  • Medi-Cal was the expected payer for 41% of all ED visits in 2021, compared to 27% for private payers and 23% for Medicare.
  • Of the 85% of ED visits that did not result in a hospital admission, one in five were for conditions severe enough to be life-threatening.
  • In 2021, the median length of stay for California ED patients was nearly three hours. For those with psychiatric or mental health needs, the median stay was more than four hours.

The full report, and all the charts found in the report, are available for download below. These materials are part of CHCF’s California Health Care Almanac, an online clearinghouse for key data and analyses describing the state’s health care landscape. See our entire collection of current and past editions of California Hospitals and Emergency Departments.

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