Thursday, April 02, 2009

Texas: Nine People Responsible for 2,678 Emergency Room Visits

(Austin, Texas) This report provides data indicating that one of the problems associated with overloaded emergency rooms is that people go to the ER when they really don't need to. The conclusions are hardly surprising.
In the past six years, eight people from Austin and one from Luling racked up 2,678 emergency room visits in Central Texas, costing hospitals, taxpayers and others $3 million, according to a report from a nonprofit made up of hospitals and other providers that care for the uninsured and low-income Central Texans.

One of the nine spent more than a third of last year in the ER: 145 days. That same patient totaled 554 ER visits from 2003 through 2008.

"We looked at frequent users of emergency departments ... and that's the extreme," said Ann Kitchen, executive director of the Integrated Care Collaboration, the group that presented the report last week to the Travis County Healthcare District board. "What we're really trying to do is find out who's using our emergency rooms ... and find solutions."

The health district, one of 26 members of the ICC, has long been concerned about overuse and crowding of ERs, a problem that has hit hospitals around the country.

The district is seeking ways to reduce the load on ERs by better managing where patients who don't have a real emergency go for care, CEO and President Patricia Young Brown said. In the past couple of years, the district has expanded hours at public clinics it oversees and has financed an urgent care center, where patients who don't have real emergencies can receive after-hours medical treatment at a lower cost to taxpayers than in an ER. [...]

The ICC, whose mission is to work with safety-net providers to improve access to and quality of care, has a database of 750,000 uninsured and underinsured Central Texas patients collected from its members. That database is confidential because of patient privacy laws. It found that 900 frequent users — people who visited an ER six or more times in three months — had 2,123 preventable visits in 2007, or 18 percent of 11,600 total visits to Central Texas ERs, which cost more than $2 million. Among those picking up the bill were hospitals and taxpayers, including government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, Kitchen said.
Doing the math, each of the nine individuals averaged 50 ER visits per year or about one ER visit per week.

For comparison, I average one ER visit every ten years. I blame la vida loca.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

most likely cause: stolen or given away social security numbers now in the hands of illegals and criminals.
So instead of 9 people making 50 visits each a year it's 90 people making 5 visits each a year (still a lot, but considering that they use the ER in lue of a GP not that much inflated).