LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – It’s a number that continues to grow. Every year, more and more patients are visiting emergency rooms across, not only Lafayette, but the entire United States.
“When I started emergency medicine, there were about 95 million visits a year in the country,” said Dr. Marc Estes, Chief of Emergency Medicine at IU Health Arnett. “Now, we’re in the 120 million visits a year.”
Estes has worked in emergency medicine for 15 years.
He said he’s personally seen the number of patients grow since the Affordable Care Act deadline back on March 31, but admits it’s impossible to say that’s the exact reason for the increase.
“That would require me knowing ahead of time whether that person had health insurance before March, and obtained it strictly because of the requirements by the law,” said Estes. “Also, whether they were seeking healthcare now and had put it off previously as a result of not having health insurance.”
Instead, Estes attributes the spike to a combination of factors.
“We’re aging as a population, there’s 10,000 people a day that hit retirement age,” said Estes. “So as we age, we tend to consume more healthcare. And honestly, we’re not as healthy or as fit as a nation as we probably once were.”
Estes said on average patients at IU Health Arnett are seen by an emergency room provider within 17 minutes of arrival.
He said patients coming to the emergency room for non-emergency related injuries, can often cause congestion.
“If your child has a sore throat or a rash, if there’s an ear infection, you know, cold symptoms, those are all very appropriate for your primary care physician at the urgent care,” said Estes.
Estes said knowing the difference between what constitutes a trip to the hospital or immediate care can often save you time and money.
For more on which injuries require which type of visit, click here.