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Fecal Impaction in the Emergency Department: An Analysis of Frequency and Associated Charges in 2011

Corban, Caroline BA; Sommers, Thomas; Sengupta, Neil MD; Jones, Mike PhD; Cheng, Vivian MS, MPH; Friedlander, Elizabeth NP, PhD; Bollom, Andrea BS; Lembo, Anthony MD

Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology: August 2016 - Volume 50 - Issue 7 - p 572–577
doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000000458
ALIMENTARY TRACT: Original Articles

Goals: The aim of this study was to analyze the incidence and associated charges of fecal impaction for trends in hospital and patient demographics in emergency departments (ED) across the United States.

Background: In 2010, an ICD-9-CM code (560.32) for fecal impaction was introduced, allowing for assessment of fecal impaction incidence.

Study: Data were obtained from the National Emergency Department Sample records in which fecal impaction (ICD-9-CM code 560.32) was first listed as a diagnosis in 2011.

Results: In 2011, there were 42,481 [95% confidence interval (CI), 39,908-45,054] fecal impaction ED visits, with an overall rate of 32 fecal impaction visits per 100,000 ED visits. Adjusted for inflation in 2014 dollars, the associated mean charge of a fecal impaction ED visit was $3060.47 (95% CI, $2943.02-$3177.92), with an aggregate national charge in the US of $130,010,772 (95% CI, $120,688,659-$139,332,885). All charges were adjusted for inflation and reported in 2014 dollars. Late elders (85+ y) had the highest rate of fecal impaction ED visits, followed by early elders (65 to 84 y). Medicare was the primary payer for the greatest number of fecal impaction ED visits accounting for nearly two thirds of visit payments.

Conclusion: This study reports previously unexplored statistics on the number, frequency, and associated charges of ED visits with a primary diagnosis of fecal impaction, a condition found most commonly among elders.

*Division of Gastroenterology, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA

Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia

The authors declare that they have nothing to disclose.

Address correspondence to: Anthony Lembo, MD, Division of Gastroenterology, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215 (e-mail:

Received April 6, 2015

Accepted November 2, 2015

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