Monday, January 09, 2006

Report: Half of ER visits preventable


About half of Tri-State emergency room visits, and 15 percent of inpatient stays, could have been prevented with timely treatment by a primary care doctor, a health group has found.

And despite popular perception, the uninsured did not make up the bulk of preventable ER visits in the 20-county area studied, according to a report released by the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, which awards grants to nonprofit and governmental organizations for improving community health.

The figures were based on 741,000 ER and 293,000 inpatient discharges in 2004. Data for individual hospitals were not available.

Examples of preventable hospital use include severe asthma episodes and dental infections, both of which can be life-threatening but can generally be avoided with early care, said Pat O'Connor, program vice president for the Health Foundation. Preventable status was determined by the diagnosis at discharge.


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