-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Many uninsured and publicly
insured trauma injury patients who are discharged from U.S.
hospitals return to the emergency department for routine follow-up
care that could be handled at an outpatient clinic, a new study
These needs include minor issues such as dressing changes and
refills of pain medications.
The researchers examined the medical records of 6,675 trauma
patients admitted to the Johns Hopkins Hospital between 1997 and
2007, and found that about 13 percent of the patients returned to
the emergency room within a month of discharge.
Nearly 90 percent of the patients who returned to the ER were
not readmitted to the hospital, which suggests that their ER visit
was unnecessary and they could have been treated for less cost in
an outpatient clinic, said study leader Dr. Adil H. Haider, an
assistant professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine.
Uninsured patients and those with Medicaid or Medicare were 60
percent more likely than those with private insurance to seek
follow-up care in the ER instead of an outpatient clinic or
doctor's office, while patients from poor neighborhoods were 70
percent more likely to do so, the study found.
"Just providing patients access to doctors outside of the ER clearly isn't working, especially for those without insurance," Haider said in a Hopkins news release. "We need better ways to help patients discharged from the hospital receive appropriate follow-up care."
It's not clear why these patients seek far more costly care in
the ER, where they have to wait longer and add to the overcrowding
that affects many emergency departments, the researchers said.
The study was recently published in the journal
Annals of Emergency Medicine.
The American College of Emergency Physicians explains when you
should go to the emergency department.
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