Emergency departments (EDs) are a critical component of the healthcare industry in the U.S. They offer a safety net for people with emergent care needs.
But with its 24/7 availability and the increasing expectations of on-demand service, we see more and more people seeking care at the ED. The CDC reports that an estimated 20 percent of U.S. adults visit the emergency room each year, resulting in approximately 141.4 million annual ED visits.
ED use is also increasing relative to availability. The 2012 Health, United States report noted a 34 percent increase in ED visits between 1995 and 2010 – nearly twice the rate of population growth. During that same time, the CDC found that the number of hospital emergency departments decreased by approximately 11 percent. While we’ve seen an increase in free-standing EDs in recent years that has helped redress the imbalance, the rise in demand and reduction in supply are precipitating very real concerns about overuse. Read more.