New figures about hospital use have shown that there has been a sharp increase in the number of visits to emergency rooms, and that – according to physicians – the rising numbers are the result of an intensifying demand for improvements and services that would permit emergency departments to provide patients with faster treatment.
Early estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that in 2009, the number of emergency room visits increased by nearly 10 percent, which was the most significant rise in visits since the number first started being tracked by the government in the early 1990’s.
In 2009 – the most recent available year – American hospital visits rose to over 136 million, which was an increase from 2008’s 123.8 million visits.
This week, emergency physicians will be convening in San Francisco for the annual gathering of the American College of Emergency Physicians. They have stated that the role of emergency medicine is growing in American healthcare as a whole. They also explained that over the short-term, the rising need for emergency services appears to be a reflection of the struggling economy.
Marin General Hospital emergency physician, Dr. Jay Kaplan, who is on the board for the American College of Emergency Physicians said that “With the economy, people have lost their coverage and, given the fact the emergency department is the safety net, they come to us.”
That said, the physicians have also stated that it is working against their cause to try to save money for the healthcare system by attempting to discourage patients from using emergency departments, as it doesn’t.