Once we’ve sought treatment for a medical emergency at a hospital emergency room, the last thing we want to do is make a repeat visit for the same ailment.
Yet a new study reveals that this is becoming an increasingly common occurrence for Americans — more common than was previously thought. However, it also seems that people are more likely to seek treatment at a different ER the second time around.
According to Madison.com, researchers analyzed more than 53 million emergency room records to discover that 8% of patients will return within just three days — more than originally thought — and one in five repeat visits are made within a month. An astonishing 28% of revisits that take place within a month occur at a different ER — complicating the treatment process for both doctors and patients.
When people visit a different hospital’s ER for their second treatment, the new doctors are less likely to have access to one’s previous X-rays and other tests performed during the patient’s first ER visit. This means the new doctors have to repeat the tests, racking up costs for patients.
Another part of the problem is the sheer number of people who seek emergency room treatment for health concerns that could be treated at an urgent care center. According to Rand Corporation research, these visits make up almost one in five emergency visits. By visiting an urgent care center instead of the emergency room, as much as $4.4 billion in healthcare costs could be saved each year.
The research, which analyzed medical records across six states, suggests that patients should be more aggressive about seeking follow-up care — as most doctors won’t know you’ve visited the ER until you tell them yourself.
“You need to make sure the next day, you connect the dots,” said Dr. R. Adams Dudley of the University of California, San Francisco, who co-authored the study. “You cannot count on the health system to connect the dots.”