Dr. Eric Forsthoefel Tells People Why So Many ER Departments’ Resources Are Stretched

People across the United States routinely visit emergency rooms to get help for their medical issues… whether they’re urgent or not.

As you might already know, healthcare costs in the United States are nearly more expensive than anywhere else on planet Earth. While the quality of healthcare-related services here in the United States is better than most places around planet Earth, many people simply can’t afford them; either they don’t have ample health insurance – and that’s if they even have insurance in the first place – to cover necessary, non-elective procedures or they don’t have enough money to pay for such procedures.

While “regular” doctors – also known as primary care providers – are legally able to turn potential patients down based on their financial situations, emergency rooms are, in fact, required to admit all patients. Further, getting appointments with primary care providers is difficult – some physicians, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare providers are booked for weeks or months in advance.

According to a study carried out in 2016 by the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, National Public Radio, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that roughly one-third of all United States residents regularly go to emergency rooms at hospitals around the nation, even when they don’t have medical issues that are considered urgent.

This isn’t a recent trend or anything, though; information from 1990 scrubbed through by the American Journal of Managed Care found that roughly 37 percent of all visits to emergency rooms around the nation were for issues that were not considered urgent.

Here’s a major problem with assessing the urgency of health problems, says Dr. Eric Forsthoefel, an emergency room doc in Tallahassee, Florida – determining whether someone’s health issue is an emergency or not isn’t possible without admitting them. As such, there are no true, reliable means of determining whether people’s visits to urgent care facilities are carried out because such issues are actually urgent or not.

Eric Forsthoefel reports that Floridians often visit urgent care facilities for health issues that aren’t, in fact, urgent on a routine basis. Just like every other state in the nation, Florida is home to countless people who don’t have health insurance, reliable primary care providers, or enough money to foot the bills of healthcare services in advance to receiving them.

Why does this issue matter?

It’s not that physicians stationed in emergency rooms like Dr. Eric Forsthoefel are growing tired of dealing with patients who present non-urgent health issues – the issue is that emergency rooms’ resources are often stretched thin, meaning people who actually need urgent care aren’t able to receive such necessary care as quickly as they’d like.

In some cases, waiting too long to see emergency room doctors like Dr. Eric Forsthoefel can result in irreversible damage. While most cases aren’t this serious, most people who have to wait for emergency care do suffer from pain, anxiety, strain, and anguish that could be resolved more quickly if so many Americans didn’t spam emergency rooms with non-urgent issues.