Let’s face it: we, or someone we know, are all going to have health problems in our lives. As we age, it is inevitable that we become diagnosed with some disease or condition. Dr. Eric Forsthoefel, a doctor based in Florida, is just one medical professional who has dedicated his career to treating people who require urgent care in the emergency room.
However, he described in an article that a lack of primary care doctors has led to a spike in people visiting the emergency room that do not really need urgent care. As anyone will know, this stretches the resources out in the hospital, inhibiting people who really need urgent care to be attended to. Of course, the hospital will do what it needs to do to treat all of its patients. That is the hospital’s job then again. But it does slow down the process and make it less effective and efficient. In fact, a study was done recently in Florida that highlighted this exact problem. It found that younger patients will tend to seek out urgent care for non-urgent emergencies. The good news is that insurance companies are pulling away from providing copayments for emergency visits for non-urgent conditions.
All in all, what Dr. Eric Forsthoefel was saying in the interview is that patients should gauge when their conditions are urgent and when they are not. The more aware a patient is of this, the more it helps everyone involved. This isn’t an encouragement to avoid the ER if you are concerned – if you are concerned for your health, and you believe the emergency room is the best course of action, don’t keep yourself from getting adequate treatment for your situation.
But it’s important to be conscious. By going into the emergency room without severe condition, patients run the risk of making the hospital less effective and less efficient.
The bottom line of the studies featured in the article was that people mainly wanted to go to the emergency room because they think it will be a quick fix to their problem. Even though it can be, some do it for other reasons. Some do it because they don’t have insurance or they don’t want to set up a relationship with a primary doctor. Another reason why is because primary doctors usually require a 2-hour notice before you are able to come and see them.
The good news is that many health professionals, like Dr. Eric Forsthoefel, are aware of this ongoing problem and are taking strides to address it. One of the biggest reasons they came up with for this problem was the time it takes a patient to see their primary care doctor. They found out that the short they could make this, the less likely non-urgent patients would seek out emergency care. In the end, the best solution is to make primary care more accessible for all. The sooner they do this, the more effective and efficient the whole health care system will be. In the end, they will continue to study this ongoing problem and find out the best solution for it.
At the end of the day, Dr. Eric Forsthoefel is taking steps to address the problem through spreading awareness of the issue as well as informing the public on the correct use of emergency rooms.