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EMERGENCY DEPARTMENTS: Is utilization declining? Why?

Some analysts predicted that implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would bring more patients to hospital emergency rooms, but there are recent reports from some hospitals that ED demand is falling off.  Please note that this article is a news report and NOT a scientific study or a survey.  But the thrust of the article is that there are reports that some ED administrators have experienced unexpected decreases in demand.  Why would this be?  Speculation is that patients who are not severely ill are making greater use of urgent care centers and other alternatives to the hospital emergency department.  Evidence to support this would be that some ED administrators note that admissions from the ED have been increasing.  In other words, patients who come to the ED are sicker as evidenced by a greater proportion who are admitted directly to inpatient care.  Another idea is that patients are still feeling the effects of the recession.  Of course, also, it is still very early in the ACA implementation process, so previously-uninsured patients may yet turn up at hospital EDs in number.

Source: Unexpected drop-offs in demand in some regions worry ED administrators.  ED Management;26(4):37-38, Apr. 2014.  Click here to access publisher’s website: http://www.ahcmedia.com/public/products/ED-Management.html  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org


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