Frequent fliers aren't abusing the emergency department, according to two studies in yesterday's Annals of Emergency Medicine. Although they are thought to be drains on the ED, these "super users" don't have more nonurgent visits than other ED patients, according to American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) researchers. Depending on the definition of a frequent flier, ranging from visiting the ED four times a year to seven times a year, they account for 11.5 percent to 39.7 percent of all ED visits.
"Frequent users are equally justified in seeking emergency care as nonfrequent users because they have serious medical problems that demand emergency care," ACEP President Andy Sama said in a statement yesterday. "If one certainty emerges here, it is that patients with mental illnesses and psychiatric emergencies are coming to the ER because other resources are simply not available to them." Announcement