Emergency hospital admissions vary widely between cantons

Around 14% of the population visited a Swiss hospital once in 2016. © KEYSTONE / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

Residents in French- and Italian-speaking Switzerland are more likely to head to hospital emergency departments than those in German-speaking regions, a new study shows. 


In 2016, 1.7 million emergency admissions were recorded in Swiss hospitals, meaning that 14% of the population visited the emergency dept at least once, the Swiss Health Observatory (OBSAN) said in a survey published on Tuesday. But rates of admission varied widely between cantons.

Inhabitants of Italian-speaking Ticino went to A&E five times more frequently (296 admissions per 1,000 residents) than those of canton of Appenzell Inner Rhodes in eastern German-speaking Switzerland (53 admissions per 1,000). 

Following on from Ticino were cantons Vaud (282), Fribourg (279), Neuchâtel (264) and Jura (254), Basel City (252) and Geneva (222).

The Swiss average was 197 per 1,000. The German-speaking canton of Bern had 171 admissions while other German-speaking cantons were even lower, including Zug (117), Nidwalden (117), Schwyz (121) and Uri (126).

+ Health and emergencies in Switzerland

"In the cantons where the rates of admissions are the highest, there is probably more a tendency for emergency departments to handle less severe cases," survey coordinator Clémence Merçay told Swiss public television (RTS). 

Merçay added that 22% of the individuals admitted to hospital emergency services in 2016 came several times a year. Often they were young children whose parents had difficulty accurately assessing the seriousness of their child’s health problems or didn't have a GP.

She acknowledged however that when the statistics for emergency hospital admissions and on-call emergency doctors’ services were combined, the differences between cantons were less dramatic.

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