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Overcrowded Er

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Overcrowding in Emergency Departments across the Country

Overcrowding in Emergency Departments
Emergency departments (ED’s) are considered a necessary component in the health care system. Many patients have access to this department 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. There has been an increasingly large volume of emergency room visits by both adult and pediatric patients up to 43% within the last 5 years. The overuse of the ED’s medical services across the nation is commonly referred to as “overcrowding”. One major cause of overcrowding is the misuse of the emergency room. Another cause is the increased volume of illness. The third cause of overcrowding is a shortage of staff. These major issues can delay staff from providing care to those who need it most. Although staff gives priority to patients who have a higher acuity of illness these patients often have to wait long periods of time before a bed becomes available. Overcrowding is serious issue in the ED and most of the contributing factors are beyond the control of the emergency department.

The first cause of overcrowding in the ED is the misuse of the emergency room. More than 50% of emergency room visits are for non-urgent concerns and over 46% of these medical complaints could have been solved by a primary care physician (PCP). PCP’s sometimes fail to properly communicate with their patients which can lead to the anxiety that sends the patient to seek assistance in the emergency room. In many instances when a PCP unavailable for appointments they will suggest that their patient pursue help in the ED instead of referring them to urgent care which, in most cases, would be more suitable for the patients complaints. The popular search engine Google can also cause misuse of the ED when a patient attempts to find a solution to their problems by simply searching their symptoms.…...

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