KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

CDC: Visits To Emergency Rooms On The Rise

The increased rates are leading emergency room docs to step up their interest in medical liability reform.

Modern Healthcare: Emergency Room Use Reaches A Record High
Visits to hospital emergency departments increased to an all-time high of 136 million in 2009, according to new estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This represents almost a 10 percent increase from the 2008 figure of 123.8 million... According to the CDC, patients under 15 accounted for 21 percent of emergency visits in 2009; patients between 15 and 24 accounted for 15 percent; patients between 25 and 44 accounted for 28 percent; patients between 45 and 64, 21 percent; and patients 65 and older, 15 percent (Robeznieks, 10/18).

San Francisco Chronicle: Visits To Emergency Rooms Rise As Insurance Lost
New hospital data show an increase in emergency room visits, a jump physicians attribute to both a swelling of demand for services and improvements that allow emergency departments to treat patients faster. Visits to emergency departments rose by almost 10 percent in 2009, the largest increase since the government started tracking the figures in the early '90s, according to preliminary estimates being released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. hospital visits jumped to more than 136 million in 2009, the most recent year available, from 123.8 million in 2008 (Colliver, 10/17).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: ER Docs Focus On Medical Liability Reforms
The number of emergency room visits in the U.S. rose nearly 13 million in 2009 — about 10 percent — to more than 136 million visits – which is the largest increase ever, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Statistics like this, combined with changes that will result as the 2010 health law is implemented, have led some emergency room doctors to focus on medical liability reform as a means to reduce the nation’s health care costs by discouraging the practice of defensive medicine (Marcy, 10/18).

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