CDC: 1 in 5 Adults Used Emergency Department in 2011

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , May 31, 2013

Bern says the CDC findings are consistent with a RAND Corporation study commissioned by the Emergency Physician Action Fund which shows that emergency physicians are key decision makers for nearly half of all hospital admissions.

RAND found that hospital admissions from the ED increased 17% over seven years, accounting for nearly all the growth in hospital admissions between 2003 and 2009, offset by a 10% drop in admissions from primary care physicians and clinical referrals. Nearly all of the increase was from "non-elective" admissions from the ED—a rate 3.8 times the rate of population growth.

Hospital inpatient care is a key driver of healthcare costs, accounting for 31% of the nation's healthcare expenses. Because of that, the role emergency physicians play in deciding who to admit to the hospital is critical to hospital cost savings, since the average cost of an inpatient stay ($9,200) is roughly 10 times the average cost of a comprehensive emergency visit ($922), RAND said.

"When you look at the overall $2.7 trillion healthcare system and that 31% of that expense is in the hospital and we are integrally involved in 50% of those admissions decisions it points to the value of the emergency physicians in the entire system," he says.

"The things we are proposing in terms of costs savings and integration are important points and our role in the entire healthcare context is one that is very very important to the bulk of that."

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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