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Study: Almost half of U.S. healthcare provided by EDs

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A study published in the International Journal of Health Services determined that hospital emergency departments provide nearly half of all medical care in America. No wonder U.S. healthcare is so astronomically expensive! But are these data too old ?

University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) researchers studied available data between 1996 and 2010 from several national healthcare databases and determined that emergency departments contributed an average of 47.7 percent of the medical care in the U.S., and that  the percentage increased steadily over the 14-year study period.

“I was stunned by the results. This really helps us better understand healthcare in this country. This research underscores the fact that emergency departments are critical to our nation’s healthcare delivery system,” David Marcozzi, M.D., an associate professor in the UMSOM Department of Emergency Medicine, and co-director of the UMSOM Program in Health Disparities and Population Health, said in a study announcement. “Patients seek care in emergency departments for many reasons. The data might suggest that emergency care provides the type of care that individuals actually want or need, 24 hours a day.”

The researchers found that African-Americans, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, residents of the South and West, and women accounted for increasing percentages of ED use over the 14 years.

Dr. Marcozzi said that while hospitals have been trying to discourage patients from using emergency departments for non-emergencies,  policymakers might want to reconsider that approach given the fragmented structure of the country’s healthcare system. Instead, he suggested, perhaps  emergency departments should be considered  as part of a  wider approach to  healthcare reform, including boosting population-health efforts.

To read the study, please hit this link.

To read FierceHealthcare’s comment on the report, please this link.

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