Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Higher Spending on Emergency Care Associated with Lower Mortality Rates � New Study by MIT Economist

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota
Washington, DC — Patients who experience medical emergencies far from home in areas that spend more on emergency care have significantly lower mortality rates compared with those in low-spending areas, according to new research published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. High-spending areas are also associated with higher staff-to-patient ratios, greater reliance on intensive care unit services and a higher likelihood of treatment in teaching hospitals.

“More intensive and expensive treatment leads to better outcomes,” said Joseph Doyle, an economist with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of the study. “The higher-spending hospitals use more ICU service, and they have higher staff-to-patient ratios, so they use more labor, and that’s expensive.”

Doyle focused his research on patients in Florida, examining tens of thousands of out-of-state visitors with heart-related emergencies who were admitted to hospitals from emergency rooms over a 7-year-period. He also said, according to an MIT news article, the per capita income of an area also is not correlated very well with hospital spending, citing Fort Lauderdale hospitals, which spend 30 percent more on heart patients than nearby, affluent West Palm Beach hospitals.

Total U.S. expenditure on emergency care was $47.3 billion in 2008, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, representing about 2 percent of the nation’s $2.4 trillion in health care spending. The nation’s emergency departments treat nearly 124 million emergency patients each year.

“This study shows the critical value of emergency medicine and how people’s lives are saved,” said Dr. Sandra Schneider, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “It demonstrates that the focus of health care policy must be on preserving our nation’s emergency care system and strengthening it to serve more people.”

Dr. Schneider said emergency visits are going to increase, despite health care reform. Reasons include the nation’s growing elderly population and the millions of Medicaid patients who can’t find doctors to treat them.

“America’s emergency departments are under severe stress, facing soaring demands,” said Dr. Schneider. “They are essential to every community and they must have adequate resources.”

For a copy of this study, contact the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics at 412-432-2310.

View the original article here

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