U of Chicago institutes triage in ED

Last week, the University of Chicago Medical Center announced 450 layoffs, which cut 5 percent off of its workforce. Now, it's following up that cost-control measure with another: it's started directing less-sick patients coming through its emergency department to other facilities.

While some local observers challenged the decision, executives defended the move, arguing that it didn't make sense for their facility to treat people who aren't acutely ill given that their costs are 30 to 40 percent higher than those at community hospitals. Right now, the medical center estimates, 40 percent of the 80,000 patients who come through its ER don't need to be there.

U of Chicago is escalating an existing program that educated patients on appropriate use of emergency department. In the past, the program involved treating all patients, then referring them to community health clinics. Now, the ER will be reorganized to provide evaluations before care is provided, then refer patients to clinics or community hospitals if they don't need ER services.

To learn more about the story:
- read this Chicago Tribune piece

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