Amanda Moore recently published an article on the Miami Patch website titled, “The Impact of Non-Urgent Care on Florida Emergency Rooms.” The article indicates that many studies across the U.S. have been looking into the use of emergency rooms for non-urgent care. Surveys conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have all shown that more than 33% of Americans have used emergency rooms even when they did not need critical care. This trend has been growing for more than three decades.
Florida is no excpetion. Dr. Eric Forsthoefel, a physician at an ER in Tallahassee, reveals he has seen hundreds of patients who could have received care from a primary physician. This is an issue for the patients because they simply don’t have access to primary care physicians. They go to the ER because they know they will be treated, regardless of how urgent the issue. Each patient is tended to by the physicians and nurses. However, this puts added stress on the ER. Resources, time, and care are all going to non-urgent patients rather than potential medical crisis.
Forsthoefel reveals his understanding towards those who use emergency resources regardless of acuity. He reveals that there are many barriers to healthcare currently, often leading people to get care where they can find it. However, as more resources are being diverted away from emergency situations it becomes more difficult to manage patient flow. It is an increasing problem.
Forsthoefel suggests that some solutions are on the way. A survey reveals that people are going to emergency rooms because they can’t wait for the appointment with a primary care physician, especially when the primary care offices are closed on the weekends. Many ER physicians indicate that if primary care doctors open their doors on the weekends or if they start providing evening hours, it will ease the burden. Many researchers have shown that people also do not wish to rack up the high medical bills from emergency rooms.
Dr. Forsthoefel became an emergency physician in Tallahassee after completing his residency and MD at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.