Over the past decade, the number of patients seeking care in the hospital emergency department (ED) has increased by 22%, driven by an increase in the number of Medicaid beneficiaries and uninsured patients, rising levels of chronic disease and an aging U.S. population.
By 2020, if ED visits continue to grow at this rate, hospitals will be treating an additional 29 million people each year.
While patients with no other health care options look to the ED for primary care, most patients seen in an ED have urgent medical needs that must be met quickly - physician offices and other care venues are often not an option, even during normal business hours. The tables below, from the AHA's Novembe r 'Pre-pared to Care' report, help illustrate some of the challenges hospitals face in continuing to provide critical emergency care services. For more on the report, click on: http://tinyurl.com/b56axml