Original Article

Surge in US Outpatient Vitamin D Deficiency Diagnoses: National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey Analysis

Authors: Karen E. Huang, MS, Brandy-Joe Milliron, PhD, Scott A. Davis, MA, Steven R. Feldman, MD, PhD


Objectives: In light of the growing medical interest in the potential consequences of vitamin D deficiency, it is important that clinicians are informed about the varying factors that may complicate the assessment of vitamin D status and the diagnosis of deficiency. To better understand the frequency of vitamin D deficiency diagnoses in the ambulatory setting over time, the objective of this investigation was to examine unspecific, general, and bone-related vitamin D deficiency diagnoses between 2007 and 2010 and to determine whether the rate of diagnoses differed by patient age and sex.

Methods: We used data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to assess the rate of vitamin D deficiency diagnoses provided between 2007 and 2010 during outpatient visits with nonfederally employed physicians in offices and hospitals. Two hundred ninety-two unweighted patient visit records were included. Trends in vitamin D deficiency agnosis over time, diagnosis of bone disease associated with a vitamin D deficiency diagnosis, and patient age and sex were reported.

Results: The number of diagnoses for vitamin D deficiency rapidly increased from 2007 to 2010. More than 97% of diagnoses were for unspecific vitamin D deficiency; 9.6% of vitamin D deficiency visits also resulted in a diagnosis of osteoporosis or bone fracture.

Conclusions: Although the rate of diagnoses for vitamin D deficiency increased between 2007 and 2010, many diagnoses rendered were for nonspecific disease; therefore, vitamin D deficiency screening may have been ordered for preventive care purposes rather than as a diagnostic aid.

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