Most People Visit the ER Because “Only a Hospital Could Help;” CDC Report Highlights Lack of Access to Care
WASHINGTON, May 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, David Seaberg, MD, FACEP, today issued a statement in response to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding emergency department use among adults aged 18 to 64 in 2011. The report focuses on a subset of the least sick and injured patients; it does not include the elderly, children or patients admitted to the hospital from the emergency department.
“This confirms the results of a recent ACEP poll in which 85 percent of Americans with regular health care providers who visited the ER said they could not have waited to see their regular providers. The CDC report draws similar conclusions, even though it excludes the nearly 27 percent of emergency patients admitted to the hospital who are, by definition, the sickest patients. It also excludes seniors who tend to have more complicated health problems and are more likely to be admitted to the hospital from the ER.
“With those groups excluded, the report still finds more than half (54.5 percent) of adults going to the emergency department because ‘only a hospital could help.’ And two-thirds (66 percent) reported visiting the ER because of the seriousness of their medical problem. The majority of patients (79.7 percent) also identified lack of access to other medical providers as a reason for visiting the ER, which is backed up by other data from the CDC showing two-thirds of emergency visits happen after normal business hours.
“No matter how we slice and dice the data, the results always say the same thing: people come to the ER because they feel they need to be there. No patient should be self-diagnosing his or her medical condition. They cannot distinguish between discomfort that is a minor problem and discomfort that could be a killer. That is the emergency physician’s job.
“We treat 135 million patients a year, 92 percent of whom need care within 2 hours, and we do it all for two cents out of every American health care dollar. When people think they are having emergencies – whether it’s in the middle of the night or on a Tuesday morning – they seek emergency care because they know we will take care of them.”
ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.
SOURCE American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)