Published Online: Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Hospital and physician visits in the United States have surged 20% in the past 5 years, and the most often prescribed drugs are antidepressants, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey.

The study, which included 352 hospitals and nearly 1200 physicians, combined data from the 2005 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.

The findings estimated that 1.2 billion visits were made to hospitals, emergency rooms, and physicians' offices. Catharine Burt, EdD, chief of the ambulatory care statistics branch of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, attributed the results to the fact that baby boomers are now primary users of the health care system.

The report found that, of the 2.4 billion drugs noted in patients' medical records in 2005, 118 million were antidepressants. Hypertension drugs followed with 113 million, and arthritis and headache drugs were mentioned in 110 million. "These are visits. These are not people," noted Dr. Burt. Patients taking antidepressants may need more physician visits. To view the entire CDC report, visit

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