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Community Indicators Home > Health and Wellness > H&W Ind 2: Non-emergency use of hospital ER


Indicator 2:

Non-emergency use of hospital ER       (emergency departments)

vs. Georgia


What does it measure?

This indicator is the number of emergency department visits that are not for medical emergencies per 1,000 persons at the two major health care systems (three hospitals) in Chatham County: St. Joseph's/Candler and Memorial University Medical Center. The data were provided by the hospitals and the measure is defined as emergency department patients classified as self-payers and indigent/charity visits with non-emergency (level 1 and level 2 acuity) cases. The data are standardized across the years by dividing by the U.S. Census Bureau population estimate for Chatham County.

Why is it important?

This indicator is an indirect measure of the lack of access to primary care physicians and/or the lack of a primary care "medical home" among the population. Reliance on emergency room care for non-emergencies that could be treated through primary care is cost inefficient and diverts resources from patients who require immediate care. Persons without health insurance tend to use hospital-based emergency department treatment because the emergency room provides immediate treatment without immediate payment. Increasing use of emergency rooms for non-emergency cases provides information about the degree to which hospital emergency departments are being substituted for primary health care.

How are we doing?

The number of county residents using hospital emergency rooms for non-emergency visits increased to 83.6 visits per 1,000 county residents in 2012 from 62.7 in 2011. The record-high level of use ends a four-year period of relative stability.

Source: Memorial University Medical Center and St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital