Pneumonia a leading cause of emergency department visits in Canada last year

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For the first time in at least five years, pneumonia was one of the top 10 reported reasons that Canadians went to the emergency department (ED) last year. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), there were almost 135,000 pneumonia-related ED visits reported across the country in 2017–2018, marking a 13 per cent increase from the year before. More than one in four reported ED visits for pneumonia resulted in the patient being admitted to the hospital for at least one night.

Abdominal and pelvic pain, throat and chest pain, and acute upper respiratory infection were the top three main reasons for visits, together resulting in approximately one million reported ED visits last year.

Pneumonia is a concern both in the ED and throughout the entire hospital, as it is consistently among the top causes of in-hospital deaths in Canada. Older adults made up approximately 65 per cent of pneumonia-related visits for admitted patients last year.

“Pneumonia is a serious illness and continues to be a concern in our emergency departments. As we approach the colder months, this new data is a timely reminder to all Canadians to take action to prevent pneumonia. Practising good hygiene, getting vaccinated and following advice from our public health units are good tips this time of year,” says Greg Webster, CIHI’s director of Acute and Ambulatory Care Information Services.

CIHI’s data also shows that visits to Canada’s EDs continue to climb. In 2017–2018, there were more than 11.4 million reported ED visits, compared with 11.2 million in 2016–2017. Despite the increased number of ED visits, year-over-year wait times remained relatively stable, with longer waits in the evenings and on weekends, as well as differences seen across hospitals.

More data on ED visits can also be found in CIHI’s Quick Stats and Your Health System web tools. Recently, CIHI updated Your Health System with the latest year of data for 28 health indicators, including All Patients Readmitted to Hospital and Avoidable Deaths. Your Health System features facility-level data on long-term care, hospital deaths, hospital readmissions and more. A list of indicators and contextual measures that have been refreshed with new data is also available.

About CIHI

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides essential information on Canada’s health systems and the health of Canadians.

We provide comparable and actionable data and information that are used to accelerate improvements in health care, health system performance and population health across Canada. Our stakeholders use our broad range of health system databases, measurements and standards, together with our evidence-based reports and analyses, in their decision-making processes. We protect the privacy of Canadians by ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of the health care information we provide.