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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Loma Linda Study Finds Correlation between Geographic Location and Epilepsy-related Emergency Room Visits

A recent study out of the Loma Linda University School of Public Health (LLUSPH), published in the Journal of Public Health Research, shows that there is a correlation between epilepsy-related emergency department (ED) visits and geographic location. Approximately 2.2 million Americans are affected by epilepsy, a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable seizures.

[Photo: Dr. Jim Banta]

The study analyzed more than 29 million ED visits to 330 hospitals between 2009 and 2011, of which more than 100,000 had epilepsy as the primary diagnosis. This analysis found increased rates in three large cities, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Stockton, and a large rural cluster in Kern County. Though there are instances where ED care for epilepsy is appropriate, having an ED visit may be considered as unstable epilepsy, and higher rates of ED use may be considered as evidence of unstable epilepsy.

Patients with epilepsy who have a low socio-economic status are associated with higher use of the ED, more visits to general practitioners, and a greater likelihood of having uncontrolled seizures. This also contributes to poor compliance to treatment plans, which in turn increases likelihood of seizures, ED visits, and health care costs.

According to lead author, Dr. Jim Banta, and associate professor at LLUSPH, “This preliminary study suggests a few areas in California, downtown Los Angeles in particular, with high rates of ED visits due to epilepsy.”

Furthermore, adds Dr. Larry Beeson, and professor at the school, “More clearly identifying areas of potential suboptimal care may contribute to better preventive strategies in those communities and empower community organizations in those areas to mobilize to assist in screening for and servicing those with epilepsy.”

The article further notes that additional research is necessary to determine whether increased ED visits represent an increased prevalence of epilepsy, or an inequitable system of epilepsy care.

The full article, entitled “Spatial patterns of epilepsy-related emergency department visits in California” can be found in the 2015 vol. 4 edition of the Journal of Public Health Research, available at: