Emergency departments (EDs) play a significant role in U.S. health care, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. EDs deliver 47.7% of medical care, and that number rises dramatically when looking at marginalized populations. The study, published in the International Journal of Health Services, looked at medical care in America from 1996 to 2010 and found that half of it comes from EDs and the number of visits steadily increased during the 14-year period.Over that time, more than 3.5 billion healthcare contacts were made in EDs, outpatient facilities and hospitals. In 2010, there were almost 130 million emergency care visits across the country, compared to 101 million outpatient visits and 39 million inpatient visits.And many of those visits came from people whove been traditionally underserved in health care.

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