I worked for six months or so in the emergency room at Saint Francis Hospital and saw a number of interesting things while I was there. Among them were patients who repeatedly visited the ER complaining of chest pains but who weren’t having heart attacks.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality today reported that such chest pain accounted for 16 million ER visits in 23 states in 2005. I’m not sure if Oklahoma was one of the surveyed states, but it’s nonetheless interesting. About one-fifth of the patients — 345,000 of them — were admitted for observation or treatment.
“Non-specific” chest pain was the fourth most common cause of visits to the ER. The top three were sprains and strains, bruises and other superficial injuries, and abdominal pain.
AHRQ also found:
- ER visits were almost twice as likely among those from the poorest communities compared with those from the wealthiest communities.
- Uninsured patients accounted for about 18 percent of visits.
If you ran a hospital, how would you handle an uninsured person who isn’t having a heart attack but may need observation? Visit The Medicine Bag blog at http://blog.newsok.com/health to leave a comment.
Jeff Raymond, Medical Writer