Emergency department visits hit a new high in 2005, with more than 115 million visits, says new research from the CDC. That's a jump of five million visits over the previous year, and a substantial 20 percent increase over 10 years.
Over the same time period, the number of hospital EDs decreased more than 9 percent from 4,176 to 3,795, the CDC says. More than half of these patients (62.8 percent) were referred to a physician or clinic for follow-up after their visit, suggesting their needs weren't critical.
The study provides more fuel for the campaign underway by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), asking Congress to approve a law creating a commission to study the ED overcrowding problem. Under the terms of the ACEP-backed bill, hospitals would have to report to HHS on how many patients are boarded in the ED, and how long they're boarded.
To find out more about the study:
- read this United Press International article
- read the CDC report (.pdf)
PLUS: Detroit-area hospitals are working to slash ED wait times. Article
Hospitals develop strategies to cope with ED overloads. Editorial
Overcrowding worsens at nation's EDs. Report
Congress takes on ER overcrowding. Report
Less ambulance diversion means more profit. Report