CDC report backs emergency department overcrowding charges

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

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