Emergency room overuse for non-critical care is a problem in hospitals around the country. According to an Institute of Medicine report, Americans have the legal right to seek treatment in emergency rooms. That legal right comes from the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. That bill says hospitals and ambulance services must provide emergency healthcare treatment to anyone regardless of their legal status, citizenship, or their ability to pay. According to a 2010 survey conducted by the American Hospital Association, more than 50 percent of the hospitals surveyed operate emergency rooms that have overcrowded treatment rooms or they are on the verge of being overcrowded.
Overcrowded emergency rooms often result in treatment delays as well as misdiagnosed health issues. Some emergency rooms are so overcrowded with non-urgent patients doctors have to treat them in a hallway or a makeshift treatment room. The lack of privacy is one factor that makes doctors and nurses nervous because it does impact accurate diagnosis and the treatment of certain medical conditions. That fact concerns doctors as well as hospital administration officials because emergency rooms are the front line for 30 percent of the people who seek medical care.
According to another survey, nine in ten doctors say they shortened or changed how they detailed patient medical histories when patients are not in treatment rooms. The same doctor survey showed more than half of the doctors who responded to the survey altered how they do physical exams in those situations. More than 75 percent of those doctors said they do an abbreviated medical history when patients get examined in hallways. Those doctors also change how they conduct physical examinations. And that is one reason doctors like Eric Forsthoefel are speaking out about non-urgent care in emergency rooms. Dr. Forsthoefel is an emergency room doctor in Tallahassee Florida.
Dr. Forsthoefel thinks non-urgent care is the issue that causes emergency room doctors and nurses to lose focus on the patients who have serious medical conditions that need immediate attention. Dr. Forsthoefel is an American Board certified Doctor of Emergency Medicine. Forsthoefel has a Florida State medical License and a Louisiana State Medical License. Dr. Forsthoefel spent the past six years working in emergency rooms, and he understands the challenges that he faces on a daily basis. Even though emergency rooms function in an overcrowded state, Dr. Forsthoefel is still able to treat non-urgent patients who have cuts, bruises, broken bones, and indigestion. And he still gives his critical patients the utmost care. Thanks to his medical training, and his six years of emergency room experience, he can quickly assess patients who come into his emergency room complaining about non-serious medical predicaments.
Non-urgent care in emergency rooms is not going away. Hospitals, doctors, and nurses understand there is a lack of physicians care outside of hospitals, so emergency rooms are the best place to get treatment if a patient can’t pay or can’t wait to see their regular doctor. Emergency rooms are the best way to get immediate medical care, according to Dr. Forsthoefel.