Study: Parents take kids to ER to avoid primary care physician

A new study looked at why parents take their children to the emergency department for non-urgent care, and found some surprising results: they aren't doing it to abuse the system, and in some cases the primary care physician has actually referred them to the ER. Children account for 25 percent of visits to the emergency department, and somewhere between 58 to 82 percent of these visits are for non-urgent conditions.

The study, published in Academic Pediatrics, interviewed parents who were bringing children in to find out their reasons for doing so. Some parents had problems with their primary care physicians, such as not being able to get in soon enough, or just not feeling like they were getting the attention they deserved. 

Meanwhile, some were actually referred by the child's primary care physician, and a third group found advantages in going to the ER. The study's authors were surprised to find that many parents found the ER to be a more efficient alternative.

To learn more about the study:
- read this Washington Post piece