On October 1st, patient referrals for the Acute Dental Care Initiative began. This program created an effective referral process to community-based settings for patients presenting with abscess-related diagnoses at the University of Michigan Health System and St. Joseph Mercy Health System emergency rooms.
Data from July 2010 through June 2011 found that the participating emergency rooms treated 1,549 Washtenaw County residents for dental-related diagnoses. 292 of these patients (approximately 19 percent) presented with dental abscesses, accounting for 25 percent of the total charges of $295,5082 for the emergency rooms. Since these abscesses are the highest-risk reason that people with dental pain visit the emergency room, the subcommittee decided to focus the initiative on abscess-related ER visits.