THE CRISIS IN AMERICA’S EMERGENCY ROOMS
The impetus behind the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 was to ensure that all Americans had access to quality health insurance, which would, in turn, encourage people to stop using hospital emergency rooms for their non-urgent care needs. Unfortunately, many people are still turning to emergency rooms in lieu of been seen by a primary care provider. So did the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act fail? Well, according to Dr. Eric Forsthoefel it has. If you’re not familiar with Dr. Forsthoefel, he is an emergency room physician at Tallahassee Memorial Bixler Trauma & Emergency Center. According to patch.com, an independent U.S. local news and information platform, Dr. Forsthoefel has personally witnessed countless non-urgent cases being treated at that particular emergency room.
WHO IS DR. ERIC FORSTHOEFEL?
Before we delve any further into this crisis that has befallen many US hospitals, let’s take a moment to examine Dr. Forsthoefel’s background and why his opinion on this matter carries so much weight. Dr. Eric Forsthoefel is a University of Louisville School of Medicine alumnus who earned his M.D. in 2009, before starting his residency at LSU Health Sciences Center in the same year. In 2012, he joined the Tallahassee Memorial Bixler Trauma & Emergency Center, serving as one of the hospital’s most talented emergency physicians. Needless to say, Dr. Forsthoefel has been an emergency room physician long enough to have formed an opinion worth hearing.
WHEN THE COST OF HEALTH INSURANCE IS TOO HIGH
When asked about why he believes more people are treating emergency rooms like a primary care office, Dr. Forsthoefel stated that because so many people lack access to a primary care provider, and needed medications, they often resort to going to emergency rooms when certain health conditions arise. Dr. Forsthoefel further goes on to say that regardless of what drives a patient to visit these facilities, hospitals are still obligated to treat their patients. In fact, providing top-tier care is paramount at Tallahassee Memorial Bixler Trauma & Emergency Center.
Dr. Forsthoefel also details the protocol in place for when patients visit their emergency center; he states that regardless of the nature of the visit, true emergency or non-urgent, each patient will be treated by the hospital’s support staff, nurses, and physicians.
The doctor freely admits, however, that non-urgent visits do place a great deal of strain on hospital resources, which, in turn, creates challenges for the hospital as a whole. Needless to say, one would have a hard time arguing against such assertions; unlike other countries, the cost of good health insurance is not within the grasp of what most Americans can afford. Therefore, more people find it easier to see a doctor when they feel ill as opposed to seeing a doctor for preventative maintenance.
EMERGENCY ROOM STATISTICS
To give this article greater context, let’s take a look at some statistical data. Since the 1990s, the trend of non-urgent visits to emergency rooms has been on the rise, and it shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, a recent study published in 2014 by the American Journal of Managed Care lends credence to what many have referred to as a crisis in hospitals all over America. The study showed that non-urgent care visits account for 37% of all emergency room traffic.