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The term “ambulatory care sensitive conditions” is a category of physiological disorders of which severe conditions are considered preventable through medication, home care, and a healthy lifestyle. In this way, occurrences and recurrences of emergency hospitalizations and admissions can also be prevented. There are over 20 disorders that can be classified under this condition, some of which are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and hypertension. Other conditions include asthma, chronic urinary tract infections, and gastroenteritis.
Ambulatory care sensitive conditions are also called such because they can also be prevented and managed through “ambulatory care,” which refers to any outpatient treatments or medical examinations. At its simplest, it can be regular consultations with a physician, but can also include biopsies, blood tests and X-rays. Dental procedures and rehabilitation visits, such as after an episode of heart failure, are also classified under ambulatory care. The aim of these services is overall health and wellness not just for those with ambulatory care sensitive conditions, but for every single individual in a community.
Many illnesses considered to be ambulatory care sensitive conditions are chronic, which means that the patient has been experiencing or will have to experience the illness long-term, perhaps for the rest of his life. They can also be acute or serious. Aside from being managed, they can also be treated outside the hospital. One example is juvenile or type 1 diabetes, in which patients will have to be permanently dependent on insulin. To treat dangerously high or low blood sugar levels that can lead to a coma, patients can administer to themselves insulin shots or consume some glucose tables, respectively.
Hospital admission rates of ambulatory care sensitive conditions vary, depending on the country or region. For example, admission rates for hypertensive patients increased in the US by 26 percent in the year 2003, while diabetes had the highest admission rate in New South Wales, Australia in 2008. These statistics are very important especially for the government because they determine if the population is given access to ambulatory care, if they have enough resources to live a healthier lifestyle, or if the quality of health care is satisfactory. Generally, high admission rates of those with ambulatory care sensitive conditions suggest that improvement should be made in providing health care to the community, especially to those who have low incomes, are financially-dependent, or are located in rural areas. One way of providing such health services is to set up free clinics or health centers in the locality.
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