Most Emergency Room Visits Are Unavoidable

blue-light-73088_1920-300x212Most emergency rooms across the country have a severe overcrowding problem, and insurers have long pushed the theory that many emergency rooms visits are unnecessary or unimportant. However, a new study debunks that myth. According to the study, only a fraction of emergency room patients fails to have an absolutely urgent need to visit the ER. The overwhelming majority of visits are unavoidable.

The findings came from data taken from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from between 2005 and 2011. More than 150,000 patient records were analyzed as part of the study. The top complaints that resulted in a visit to the ER included tooth pain, backache, headache and soreness of the throat.

The researchers defined an “avoidable” visit as one that did not necessitate screening or diagnostic tests, procedures or the use of medications. The researchers found in their analysis that approximately 3.3% of emergency room visits were avoidable. Many of these avoidable visits involved mental health issues that most ERs are not in a position to treat. Approximately 10% of visits involved depression or anxiety, while close to 9% of potential conditions involved dental problems.

According to the researchers, there has been a campaign by the insurance industry to coax the public into believing that most emergency room visits are avoidable and unnecessary. This has been done with a view to reducing the liability of insurance companies for emergency room visits. However, the data clearly indicates that the truth is just the opposite. The majority of patients who visit emergency rooms have a health condition that can be treated only in the emergency room.

In fact, the data found that many emergency room visits involve conditions that cannot be treated by ERs. Mental health-related ER visits could be avoided if policymakers paid more attention to increased patient access to health care services that are designed to treat these conditions.  According to the researchers, many visits involving patients with alcohol-related disorders and mood disorders could have been prevented if patients had access to services that would help them get the treatment they needed for their condition, and kept them out of overcrowded emergency rooms.

It is a fact that most emergency rooms around the country are overcrowded and stressed beyond their capacity. This makes for a high-stress environment in which medical staff including doctors and nurses are pressed for time and resources.

To reduce your risks of becoming a victim of a medical error in the emergency room, always maintain your medical records in an accessible location in your home, and take these with you when you need to visit the ER. This reduces the risk of medication and other errors. Note down the identification of every doctor who treats you. This reduces confusion and miscommunication, resulting in safer care for you.

The Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP represent persons injured as the result of medical negligence across Indiana. Medical negligence can happen at a doctor’s office, on the surgical table, and even the Emergency Department. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of negligent medical act, contact our office right away.