Dr. Eric Forsthoefel is an emergency room doctor located on the East Coast. He attended Florida State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in religion in 2004. In 2009, he graduated from the University of Louisville with his MD and did his residency at Louisiana State University Medical Center in 2012. Dr. Forsthoefel is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine and holds a Louisiana State and Florida State medical license. He is trained to work in an emergency room setting and experienced in handling many kinds of medical cases. Dr. Forsthoefel successfully assesses and treats patients entering the emergency department with potentially life-threatening situations.
Dr. Forsthoefel has seen his share of non-urgent cases come through his emergency room. When asked about this issue, he stated that primary care medicine is part of the solution to this problem. If more primary care doctors had evening hours or took on more Medicaid patients, it would reduce the number of people coming to the emergency room for non-urgent reasons. Studies have been conducted that shows there is a correlation between different groups of people and why they use the emergency room.
Unlike the popular notion that most people in the emergency room for non-urgent issues is because they are uninsured, this is not true. The uninsured only make up only 20% of the patients. The bulk of the patients are Medicaid patients. Many times, Medicaid patients go to the emergency room because they do not have primary doctors. Additionally, these patients know that they can get all the services they might need in one place. They know that they will not be sent to multiple specialists, which might demand copayments, that they cannot afford.
There have been efforts by some insurance companies to refuse to pay for non-urgent issues that are treated in the emergency room. This is a tricky situation. Someone may arrive at the emergency room with chest pain. There is no way to rule out a heart-related issue without being seen by a physician. However, if it ends up being heartburn (which is non-urgent) some companies may not pay for it. This leads to the possibility of people with urgent conditions not going to the emergency department because they are not sure what the problem is and are afraid they will get saddled with a big bill.
Doctors want to help patients and needs are not always obvious when they get to the emergency room. However, with different tactics being used and suggestions for initiatives to keep non-urgent cases out of the emergency room, they might see a difference in the influx of these cases. The effects of these changes need to be closely monitored because the last thing the medical community wants to do is not treat people who really do have a medical crisis. And so far, one of the best solutions is to increase primary care doctor access so patients do not have to wait days to see their doctor, or they are not turned away for treatment by primary care physicians.