New research suggests that lack of follow-up care explains the great frequency of some patients’ visits to hospital emergency rooms. And the study, perhaps surprisingly, also shows that many people go to a different ER the second time around.
The Associated Press reported that the new research, based on records in six states, “suggests patients should be pushy about getting follow-up care so they don’t have to return to crowded emergency departments.”
‘”You need to make sure the next day, you connect the dots,’ study co-author Dr. R. Adams Dudley of the University of California at San Francisco, told the AP. “‘You cannot count on the health system to connect the dots.”‘
“It’s also a reminder of how disconnected our healthcare system is. Chances are, your primary care doctor won’t know you made an ER visit unless you call about what to do next,” the AP said.
“And if your second visit was to a different ER, often doctors can’t see your earlier X-rays or other tests and have to repeat them, adding preventable costs. While more hospitals and doctors’ offices are trying to share electronic medical records, it’s still far from common, especially in the fast-paced ER.”
“‘It’s frustrating. We’re open 24 hours a day and we don’t necessarily have access to those records,”‘ said UCSF assistant Prof. Dr. Reena Duseja, an emergency physician who led the research.
Still, revisits may be appropriate, Dr. Duseja noted. After all, nearly 30 percent of revisits involved hospitalization, suggesting that either patients got sicker or ER physicians felt that more scrutiny or testing was needed.