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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cost of Routine Herpes Simplex Virus Infection Visits to U.S. Emergency Departments 2006-2013


Introduction: Little is known about emergency department (ED) utilization for herpes simplex viruses (HSV) types 1 and 2 in the United States. Our goal was to determine the utilization and cost burden associated with HSV infection visits to U.S. EDs in recent years from 2006-2013.Methods: We analyzed the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) database, the largest national database of hospital-based ED visits in the U.S., to determine the number of visits and the cost associated with HSV visits from 2006-2013. We also analyzed trends across years.Results: From 2006-2013, there were 704,728 ED visits with a primary diagnosis of HSV infection. Of these, 658,805 (93.5%) resulted in routine discharges without inpatient admission, amounting to a total ED charge of $543.0 million. After adjusting for inflation, there was a doubling of total ED spending for HSV from 2006 to 2013 ($45.0 million to $90.7 million) and a 24% increase in number of visits (73,227 visits in 2006, vs. 90,627 visits in 2013). ED visits for genital herpes have increased while visits for herpes gingivostomatitis have decreased.Conclusion: HSV-associated ED use and associated costs have increased between 2006-2013.  Most of these cases could likely be managed in non-emergent outpatient settings as 93.5% of visits resulted in routine discharges without admission . Our findings add to knowledge regarding HSV utilization and epidemiology in the U.S. and highlight the need for continued prevention, patient education, and emphasis of care in non-emergency settings to prevent unnecessary ED utilization.

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