By Kentucky Health News
Nearly half of emergency room doctors say their ERs have seen an increase in patients since health reform went into effect, and 86 percent say they expect the increase to continue, according to a poll by the American College of Emergency Physician. Of the 1,845 completed surveys, 9 percent said ER visits had increased greatly and 37 percent said they had increased slightly. When asked what they think will happen over the next three years, 41 percent said visits will increase greatly and 45 percent said they will increase slightly.
But some hospitals say many patients are going to the ER for ailments that are not emergencies, Laura Ungar reports for The Courier-Journal. Lewis Perkins, vice president of patient care and chief nursing officer at Louisville’s Norton Hospital, said the emergency room is seeing 100 more patients per month, an increase of 12 percent. “We’re seeing patients who probably should be seen at our (immediate-care centers),” he told Ungar. “And we’re seeing this across the system.”
ER visits at the University of Louisville Hospital are up 18 percent, while Dr. Ryan Stanton of Lexington, president of the Kentucky chapter of the ER physicians’ group, said ER services are up 7.5 percent in that city. He told Ungar, “It’s a perfect storm here. We’ve given people an ATM card in a town with no ATMs.”
Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.