AP/Los Angeles Times Reports on ERs’ Treatment of ‘Frequent Fliers’
The AP/Los Angeles Times on Sunday looked at emergency rooms' care for "frequent flier[s]," uninsured people who use ERs as often as every day, seeking "food, human interaction or perhaps just a warm place to sit for a while." The AP/Times reports on one man who has visited the ER at Oakland's public Highland Hospital more than 1,200 times since 1996; his ER visits, ambulance rides and hospital stays are estimated to have cost taxpayers $900,000. The man has been called "a shameless manipulator of the system, a burden on overworked nurses and doctors and a danger to other citizens in need of ambulances and hospital beds," the AP/Times reports. But Dr. Richard O'Brien, a spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians, said that "frequent flier" patients are an "unavoidable part of the job," adding, "There's a moral and legal obligation to take every complaint seriously" (Foster, AP/Los Angeles Times, 9/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.