WASHINGTON — One in five Americans reported visiting an emergency department at least once in the past year, according to new report on America’s health from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC). The findings show America’s increasing reliance on emergency care, according to Dr. Andy Sama, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). The vast majority of patients going to the ER have the symptoms of a medical emergency, and it’s not possible to diagnose their conditions until medical exams and tests are complete.
There were more than 130 million emergency visits in 2010, and the vast majority of visits were for serious medical symptoms. Patients also are not able to evaluate the seriousness of their symptoms, according to the CDC, and the patient’s reason for the visit did not always match the physician’s diagnosis. The highest usages were among children ages 6 and younger and adults ages 75 and older.