Emergency Department Visits: Facts & Figures

Heat-related illness emergency department visits in MN:

Heat can cause acute illness that can sometimes require an emergency department visit (ED visit). These can result in treatment and release, hospitalization, or even death.

ED visit data includes patients that were treated in the ED before getting hospitalized. ED visits are a better data source to capture the health effects from heat than hospitalizations, since most people visit the ED first.

ED visits due to heat are sometimes not coded as heat-related, which can mean that the data underestimate heat-related ED visits.


Heat-related illness ED visit rates and summer temperature

Note: ED visits that are directly heat-related.
Source: Minnesota Hospital Association. Temperature data source: National Climatic Data Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The rate of ED visits due to heat-related illness parallels the average summer temperatures. This graph does not prove causation, but demonstrates an association between average summer temperatures and number of ED visits. The summers of 2001, 2006, and 2012 had higher average temperatures and higher rates of heat-related illness ED visits.


Heat-related illness ED visits in MN

Note: ED visits that are directly heat-related.
Source: Minnesota Hospital Association.

There was an increase in the frequency and rate of heat-related illness ED visits for the summers 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2012.


Heat-related illness ED visits, by age

Note: ED visits that are directly heat-related.
Source: Minnesota Hospital Association.

This chart shows ED visits by age group. Those aged 15-34 and 65+ visit the ED at a greater rate than the other age categories.


Heat-related illness ED visits in MN, by sex and age

Note: ED visits that are directly heat-related.
Source: Minnesota Hospital Association. 2009-2014.

The rate of ED visits for males is higher than females for every age group.

While people 65 years old and older are considered the most sensitive to heat, this chart indicates that males age 15 to 34 have the highest rate of heat-related illness ED visits. This differs from the hospitalization data where males age 65 years old and older had the highest rate of hospitalization.

Heat-related illness ED visits and Minnesota regions

Note: ED visits that are directly heat-related.
Source: Minnesota Hospital Association. The Metro area is Anoka, Hennepin, Ramsey, Washington, Carver, Scott, and Dakota counties. The non-Metro area is all other counties in Minnesota.

The metro population is considered more at risk to heat-related illness due to the urban heat island effect. However, this chart demonstrates that the non-metro population experiences more heat-related illness ED visits overall than the metro population.

This pattern is similar to the hospitalization data that showed the rate of hospitalizations for heat-related illness was higher in the non-metro area than the metro area for summers with higher than average temperatures.

Some populations are more vulnerable to heat-related illness than others. Data on the percentage of vulnerable populations in townships throughout Minnesota are available on Heat: More maps.