Numbers don’t tell whole story on ED care
As a subscriber, I respect Modern Healthcare greatly. It consistently offers insightful and current information. As someone who has worked in the emergency medicine industry for many years, I’d like to offer a different perspective to your publication’s portrayal of emergency care than the one presented on the July 28 Data Points page (“The high cost of ED care,” p. 34).
Regarding the “23% increase in ED visits between 2000 and 2010,” certainly there has been a well-documented increase in ED visits. However, there are numerous and complex reasons for the increase, not the least of which is the primary- care shortage. Also, it is risky to simply link cost with ED visit volume.
About “Time taken in the ED for 25% of patients— less than 15 minutes.” A very valid reason for this is because emergency physicians are known as “master diagnosticians.” Perhaps this is truly an indication of the efficiency of our EDs.
About the “$9.2 billion for falls, motor vehicle accidents and poisoning,” I know of no better place than an ED to go for any of these patient scenarios.
Finally, the “13.3% of ED visits resulting in hospital admissions” misses the point that upward of 75% of all hospital admissions come via the ED. These physicians really do see and treat the most severely ill and injured patients. Emergency departments are not the cause of our healthcare system’s problems. Many call our EDs the “safety net” of the system; in many ways our EDs are the only net of the system.
John G. Holstein Director Zotec Partners Bala Cynwyd, Pa.