Emergency doctors deliver more than a quarter of US acute care

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 07 September 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4892
  1. Bob Roehr
  1. 1Washington, DC

    A detailed study of where patients get treated for acute problems such as stomach or chest pain, fever, or cough has found that primary care doctors handle only 42% of 354 million such visits in the United States each year, while doctors working in accident and emergency departments handle 28%.

    The study, in this month’s issue of Health Affairs (doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2009.1026), found that 20% of acute care visits are to specialists and 7% are to outpatient departments.

    Acute care visits handled by primary care providers overwhelmingly occurred during normal opening hours (95% of visits to primary care), with visits to hospital outpatient departments close behind (89%). In contrast, two thirds of visits to emergency departments occurred …

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