Nationwide, patients are flooding into emergency departments seeking medical attention for non-emergent care. Using emergency departments as a primary provider is one of the biggest issues plaguing the healthcare industry today, and the numbers continue to increase. Dr. Eric Forsthoefel, an emergency medicine physician, is among many who see the trend as problematic.
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As Dr. Forsthoefel sees it, and research backs up his position, many patients do not have access to primary care physicians for one reason or another and use emergency departments, instead, as their provider. While all patients will be cared for regardless of the level of urgency, Dr. Forsthoefel explains that non-emergent cases tax the human and physical resources in emergency departments and make it more difficult to monitor and manage emergent cases. Lest it be said that Dr. Forsthoefel lacks empathy, he holds a BA in Religion/Religious Studies from Florida State University. This may give him an even more unique perspective into the human condition as he also strives to help people medically. Additionally, Dr. Forsthoefel earned his MD via the University Of Louisville School Of Medicine.
Seeing non-critical patients in the emergency department can create efficiency issues and problems with flow, as resources tend to be pulled between those in need of immediate care and those who are not. Dr. Forsthoefel, though, is among those concerned with an emerging trend by insurance companies that places patient lives in jeopardy. Some insurers are now refusing to pay for non-emergent medical care given in emergency departments. This, according to Dr. Forsthoefel and others, serves as a major deterrent to some patients seeking care at all, which can be dangerous. Many cases may seem innocuous on their face, but could be symptoms of something more serious.
Dr. Forsthoefel and his colleagues feel that a potential solution may be for primary care physicians to have greater availability and longer hours. Issues with scheduling appointments for primary care physicians are often to blame for the misuse of emergency departments. Until a solution is found, however, Dr. Forsthoefel and his colleagues will continue to provide emergency department patients with the best care possible.