Study: Homeless more likely to use ambulance

A new study concludes that homeless people are more likely than other patients to arrive at U.S. hospitals by ambulance, and more than twice as likely than other patients to be uninsured.

The study, which appears in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, analyzed 500,000 emergency department visits by homeless people. It found that one-third of homeless patients arrived by ambulance, an exercise which costs almost a total of $67 million.

Researchers found that the homeless were more likely to get more than two diagnostic tests, a larger number than other patients. This was despite the fact that the researchers found no difference in the acuity of the homeless and non-homeless patients studied. Previous studies have demonstrated that homeless patients visit EDs four times more often than other patients and are among the most frequent repeat visitors, study authors noted.

While the authors didn't speculate as to why these differences existed, it seems likely that part of the gap in testing exists because compassionate physicians want to give homeless people the care they might not get outside of hospital walls, where primary care may be inaccessible to them.

To learn more about this study:
- read this UPI piece

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