The issue of patients going to the emergency room for treatment for non-urgent medical cases has become rampant in Florida. It has become necessary to look at the impact that this practice has on the state of healthcare in the state. An approximate of a third of the American population make up emergency room visits, according to a 2013 survey. This figure includes patients whose medical situations don’t qualify as urgent. Historical data collected over a decade-long period revealed that about 37% of non-urgent care conditions are taken to emergency rooms.
Where the Issue Lies
Emergency doctor, Dr. Eric Forsthoefel, is one expert who is speaking about the repercussions that this trend could have. In his time working at the Bixler Trauma & Emergency Center, he has seen hundreds of such situations. Dr. Forsthoefel explains that overuse and misuse of the Emergency Department are due to the poor access that most of these people have to primary medical care. Regardless of whether a medical situation falls on the urgent scale when a patient comes to the ER, the right care will be provided. The problem is that resources are spread too thin when they have to be shared between the urgent and non-urgent cases. When critical medical cases come in, emergency departments find themselves failing to respond to them adequately due to the decreased resources.
Dr. Forsthoefel continues to explain that, even though medical professionals are aware of the challenges that some patients face when accessing medical care, they can’t keep compromising efficiency. When a patient shows up at an emergency room, techs, nurses, doctors, and any other professionals will provide the best care possible, but that takes them away from truly urgent cases. A majority of non-urgent medical situations prefer ER because it promises a shorter treatment time than primary care. For others, the lack of a primary care provider was the motivation. Dr. Forsthoefel is of the opinion that this situation needs a quick and effective solution that will allow emergency departments to be as efficient as they can. One of those is making it less complicated for individuals to access primary care. Some insurance companies like Anthem have instituted a policy where coverage doesn’t extend to non-urgent care in emergency departments. The challenge with this is that it can be difficult to determine the urgent nature of a condition until after examination.
Dr. Eric Forsthoefel is a graduate of the Louisiana State University, getting his degree in 2012 from the School of Medicine in New Orleans. He is based in Tallahassee, working in emergency medicine. Forsthoefel deals with critical care conditions, which entails the diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening acute medical health issues like heart conditions, overdoses, and hemorrhages. He holds an LA state medical license and is certified in emergency medicine by the American Board of Emergency Medicine.