Noteworthy News

Emergency Room Visits on the Rise, Emergency Room numbers fall

iStock_000000522737XSmallUrban safety-net hospitals have some of the busiest emergency rooms in the country and they seem to be getting busier all the time.  While much of this increased volume can be attributed to the growing number of uninsured Americans and growing numbers of Medicaid patients who have difficulty finding primary care physicians willing to treat them, another cause of individual hospitals’ growing ER volume is now clear:  there are fewer ERs for patients in need of emergency care.  According to a new study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, hospital emergency room visits increased 30 percent between 1998 and 2008 while the number of hospital-based ERs declined 3.3 percent during the same period.  The study also found that urban acute-care hospitals with low margins – the situation for so many urban safety-net hospitals today – and hospitals in more competitive markets are more likely than others to close their ERs.  Read about the study here or find the study itself here.

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