Study: Many Visits to California EDs Could Be Handled Elsewhere
Four in 10 people seeking treatment in hospital emergency departments could be treated in other health care settings but cannot wait for appointments with their own physicians, according to a study released Tuesday by the Public Policy Institute of California, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
The study indicates that Medi-Cal beneficiaries are more likely than the uninsured and undocumented immigrants to seek care at hospital EDs when they could be treated more appropriately in other care settings. In addition, the study found that Medi-Cal beneficiaries are more likely than the uninsured to say that ED care is better than the treatment they would have received in a primary care setting.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Noncitizen immigrants are among the population groups least likely to report an ED visit, and immigrant Hispanics and Asians use hospital EDs less than U.S.-born whites, according to the study.
The study is based on data from 2005, the most recent year for which information is available.
To help curb unnecessary ED usage, study authors recommend:
- Expanding urgent care clinics;
- Adding more community health care centers; and
- Offering more telephone hotlines linking patients to health care providers (Abram, Los Angeles Daily News, 8/20).
On Wednesday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on the study (Weiss, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 8/20).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.