Patients Still Flocking To The ER

In support of a statewide effort to save money by reducing unnecessary medical treatment, the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy just released a new report that looks at inpatient hospital stays and visits to the emergency department. The findings, which reflect the years 2004-2008, compare with earlier reports that suggest people are still relying heavily on the ER — a trend that was supposed to drop when health reform kicked in.

Indeed, according to the state, "the analysis shows that while the number of admissions to Massachusetts hospitals remained relatively stable from FY04 through FY08 (fluctuating by less than 1%), the number of ED visits in Massachusetts increased between 1.5% and 2.4% each year during the same time period, after adjusting for population changes. Most patients chose hospitals located in the region where they live, however, one-third of patients residing in the Northeast and Southeast went to Metro Boston area hospitals for inpatient care."

How do we convince people to see their primary care doc, rather than head to the ER?

This program aired on July 1, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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