Myths

Emergency medical care is expensive and inefficient. Reducing emergency care will “bend the cost curve” on our nation’s rising health care costs.
  • The 120 million annual visits made to emergency departments account for only 3% of all health care spending.
  • Emergency departments are equipped with state-of- the-art diagnostic equipment and highly trained physicians who can draw on many hospital resources quickly, providing coordinated, efficient patient care.
  • The fixed costs of being open 24/7 are high, but the variable costs for seeing patients in the emergency department are the same as anywhere else care is provided.
Emergency departments are crowded with patients seeking non-urgent care.
  • Only 12.1% of emergency patients have non-urgent conditions that could wait 2 to 24 hours for medical care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Crowded conditions and longer wait times are primarily caused by patients being “boarded,” or forced to stay in the emergency department – often on gurneys lining the hallways - long after they have been seen and admitted to the hospital.
Your local emergency department will always be there when you need it.
  • Hundreds of emergency departments have closed nationwide because of an overburdened emergency care system.
  • The nation’s emergency departments must accommodate an average increase of 3 million more patient visits each year.
  • Every 60 seconds emergency care is delayed when an ambulance is diverted to a distant hospital because a nearer one is unable to accept more patients.
  • Seventy-five percent (75%) of emergency department directors report significant problems getting needed on-call specialists, such as neurosurgeons and orthopedists, to provide vital on-call services to emergency patients.
The need for emergency care will decrease when health care reform is enacted.
  • With a growing and aging population, our role in providing care to the sick and injured any time day or night, and our front line responsibility in responding to natural and man-made disasters, will be in even greater demand.
  • Since enacting its universal health care legislation, Massachusetts has experienced an increase in emergency department patients.
  • Emergency medicine is an essential community service that is vitally important to our nation’s health care system.
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