ER

From late March into April, Timothy Regan had severe coughing fits several times a day that often left him out of breath. He had a periodic low-grade fever too.

Wondering if he had COVID-19, Regan called a nurse hotline run by Denver Health, a large public health system in his city. A nurse listened to him describe his symptoms and told him to immediately go to the hospital system's urgent care facility.

Florida Supreme Court Agrees To Take Hospital ER Liability Case

Jul 25, 2019
Emergency responders providing care to a patient in the back of an ambulance.
Peter Haden/WLRN

In a case stemming from the death of a woman after a botched cosmetic procedure, the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to decide whether a hospital can be liable for treatment provided by emergency-room doctors who are independent contractors. 

Lee Memorial Health System is reducing the number of people who regularly use its emergency rooms. Treating regular ER visitors can be costly for the hospital, and the sign of a larger problem for the patient. We’ll explore a program targeting the underlying reasons that cause them to frequently visit the ER.

AP

Floridians gave high marks to their hospital stays, but low marks to care in emergency rooms, according to a national poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

"The highest share of excellence, the top of the chart, were for people who were hospitalized,” said Harvard professor and study co-director Robert Blendon. 

HCA Healthcare is sending postcards to Pinellas County residents telling them to ask emergency medical services to take them to HCA if they’re having a heart attack, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The hospital chain is the largest for-profit group in the nation and is known for its bold marketing campaigns, including billboards on major highways advertising ER wait times.

The federal government intends to fine Florida for what it describes as a violation of the Social Security Act -- limiting Medicaid patients' emergency room visits to six a year -- the Tampa Bay Times reports.  

In December 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services  rejected the plan from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration to cap the visits.

A 40-something patient I'll call Ted has a list of conditions that would have tongue-tied Carl Sagan. Even though I see Ted in my clinic every month, he still winds up visiting the emergency room 20 times per year.

Yes, 20.

Before he became my patient, he went even more frequently. So, the current situation, bad as it may be, represents halting progress.

Medical entrepreneurs are remaking the emergency room experience. They're pulling the emergency room out of the hospital and planting it in the strip mall.

It's called a "free-standing ER," and some 400 of them have opened across the country in the past four years.

The trend is hot around Houston, where there are already 41 free-standing ERs and 10 more in the works.