The use of the emergency department by children on Medicaid was documented, and the effect of new adult Medicaid criteria on a pediatric emergency department was investigated. Eight percent of daytime visits by all patients were nonemergencies, compared to 15% by Medicaid patients. More Medicaid patients required admission than other children (16% v 10%) seen in the emergency department. Emergency department use by Medicaid patients was not decreased by the new criteria. Documentation of inappropriate denials of emergency care when criteria designed for adults were applied to pediatric patients was presented to state health officials and resulted in a change in the state Medicaid criteria for emergency care of children.
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