Keeping staff medically informed so that they can best deal with the variety of cases seen within the context of an ER unit. Within the vulnerable population inside the ER are individuals who inappropriate use its services. Research states that “patients who inappropriately overuse the ER has become a national health care priority as ER costs per-visit are generally three times higher than a comparable care in an outpatient clinic,” (Thompson & Glick 1999, p 1). Studies have shown these individuals to include the mentally ill and “socially vulnerable” population, including the poor, who otherwise have no access to typical health care services without insurance (Thompson & Glick 1999, p 2). Yet, in the modern context, care can be provided in other care locations. A well trained and experienced staff can help filter out those individuals who can provide referrals to more appropriate health settings. With all the new health reforms that will be taking effect in the near future, it is important to keep staff updated on their knowledge of them. The 25 RNs, 20 LPNS, and 25 UAPS on staff can all help filter patients to better resources and save valuable time with physicians. The recent reform bill expands healthcare coverage to many of those inappropriately using the ER now — therefore this population can be eliminated, but only if staff can help inform such individuals regarding their rights and where they can find more appropriate care. Also improves Medicare and expands coverage and quality of care (House Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor 2010).
Former cuts had actually increased the numbers of ER visits annually around the country, thus costing hospitals dearly in annual operation costs (Cunningham 2006). Staff must know what new opportunities are out there for low-income patients who are inappropriately using the ER, which can then save thousands of dollars annually on treating and dealing with inappropriate ER use.
Continuing staff education means providing them with the tools to be able to identify and respond to problem areas that are proving not to be cost-effective within their practice in the ER unit. This will no doubt help staff create ways to implement cost-effect strategies by keeping them well-versed in how similar strategies might be being implemented in similar situations around the country.
Cunningham, Peter J. (2006). Medicaid / SCHIP cuts and hospital emergency department use. Health Affairs. 25(1):237-247.
House Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor. (2010). Bill summary. Affordable Health Care for America. Retrieved May 22, 2010 from http://docs.house.gov/energycommerce/SUMMARY.pdf
Thompson, Karen MacDonald & Glick, .(1999). Cost analysis of emergency room use by low-income patients. Nursing Economics. Retrieved May 22, 2010 from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FSW/is_3_17/ai_n18608642/?tag=content;col1
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. (2010).Needs assessment. Continuing Medical Education. Retrieved May 22, 2010 from http://www.uams.edu/cme/word%20docs%202/NEEDS%20ASSESSMENT/NeedsAsmt.pdf.