It’s not uncommon for people to visit an emergency room when they feel sick and don’t know why. Emergency rooms across the country help people with non-urgent health issues as long as they can pay for emergency room services. But treating patients with non-urgent medical conditions is a major problem in the healthcare industry. According to a recent medical survey, 30 percent of the people who need medical care go to a hospital emergency room instead of visiting a doctor’s office. And according to an American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) report, 37 percent of all emergency room visits were non-urgent visits.
Emergency room physicians like Florida’s Dr. Eric Forsthoefel say they treat hundreds of non-urgent patients in the emergency room. Dr. Forsthoefel graduated from Louisiana State University School of Medicine Shreveport in 2012. He did his residency at Louisiana State University. Eric received approval from several licensing boards so he could offer his emergency room expertise to patients.
Dr. Forsthoefel got his emergency medicine certification from the American Board of Emergency Medicine. Eric also holds a Louisiana State Medical License and a Florida State Medical License. Forsthoefel’s six years of experience in emergency room care opened his eyes to many of the challenges emergency room physicians face. Dr. Forsthoefel spends time in his emergency room treating cardiac issues as well as bone fractures, cuts, bruises, and acute illnesses. His training and his experience help him deal with, and assess, patients who come into the emergency room complaining about their medical predicaments.
In a recent interview, Dr. Forsthoefel explained the non-urgent emergency room issue. He said every patient who comes to the emergency room gets the full attention of the nurses, support staff, techs, and the physicians who treat them. All patients require a bed, and they are usually in short supply. The volume of non-urgent patients makes it difficult for nurses, doctors, and hospital staff to treat the people who need urgent medical care.
In the same interview, Dr. Forsthoefel said emergency room become less effective because the staff’s workload is overwhelming. Resources that should go to patients with life-threatening illnesses go to non-urgent patients, and that makes it hard for emergency department staff to manage patient flow.
According to a George Washington University study, non-urgent patients who visit emergency rooms come from different social and educational backgrounds. The high income, highly educated patients go to emergency rooms because it takes too long to get an appointment with their primary care provider. Low-income, non-urgent patients like to go to the emergency room because it’s convenient. Plus, many low-income patients don’t have a primary care provider. Young patients choose the emergency room because it’s the easiest way to get non-urgent medical attention.
Some studies say more men than women use emergency rooms as non-urgent doctor visits. But Dr. Forsthoefel says other studies show more women than men use Florida emergency rooms. But Forthoefel thinks the non-urgent care issue in emergency rooms is not a gender issue. It’s a patient choice issue.