One in three Americans visit the emergency department each year, for a total of more than 150 million visits. Our population is aging, and people who visit emergency departments are coming in with more serious injuries and more complex conditions.
Emergency physicians provide incredible value to their patients and broader health care system. Not only do they provide lifesaving treatment to anyone who walks through the doors of the emergency department, they also help contain health care costs. A study in JAMA Network Open shows that as the number of people visiting the emergency department increases, patients who receive timely emergency care often avoid more costly hospital stays. Emergency physicians can rapidly perform a comprehensive range of tests and procedures, which differentiates their capabilities from primary care or urgent care and often means that patients can be treated then sent home to recover.
Research also shows that mortality rates are improving after emergency visits, which means that patients are living longer, healthier lives after they receive care. A study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that mortality rates of patients within 30 days of being sent home from the ED improved 23 percent—a trend visible across patient populations, but greatest for the patients with the most severe emergencies.
These studies are supported by the Emergency Medicine Foundation, a nonprofit research organization funded through the American College of Emergency Physicians.