Poll finds ER volumes increasing, concerns mounting about preparedness

According to a poll, 75 percent of emergency room physicians said the number of their patients has increased since the requirement that most people have health insurance was instituted on Jan. 1, 2014.

Meanwhile, 70 percent of respondents said their emergency departments were not prepared for significant increases in patient volume.

The American College of Emergency Room Physicians (ACEP) released the results on May 4. From March 16 to March 23, Marketing General sent email invitations on behalf of ACEP to more than 25,000 of its members. They received complete poll responses from 2,099 members. Of the respondents, 60 percent worked for an emergency medicine group and 31 percent worked for a hospital.

The survey found that 28 percent of physicians said the emergency room volume had “increased greatly” and 47 percent said it had “increased slightly” since 2014. An additional 17 percent said the volume “remained the same,” 5 percent said it had “decreased slightly” and the remaining 3 percent were not sure.

During that same time period, 68 percent of respondents said the volume of Medicaid patients in the emergency room had increased.

In addition, 64 percent of respondents said they were spending more time on coordinating care after patients leave the emergency room. Meanwhile, 34 percent of physicians said they had considered leaving the profession because of reductions in reimbursement for emergency care.