KFF survey finds EDs seeing more uninsured patients during recession, capacity strained

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

August 12, 2009

A new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation released last week shows that emergency departments (ED) nationwide have seen a surge in capacity and a change in patient population to mainly uninsured patients during the recession. Because most uninsured patients have no primary care physician, they seek care more often at EDs. Additionally, both insured and uninsured patients sought care at the ED more often since the start of the recession because they were less able to pay for out of pocket costs for any other type of care and wound up in the ED as a last resort.

The information from the survey came from a series of interviews conducted by researchers with heads of EDs. Because of the increase in volume of patients, EDs have had to schedule staff members for more shifts and encourage clinicians to see more patient each hour, as well as rush lab and imaging technicians to produce results more quickly. Many of the interviewees expressed fear that these fixes will lead to an increase risk for errors.

To read more from the Kaiser Family Foundation, click here.