Dr. Eric Forsthoefel is widely viewed as a trusted authority on the challenges that emergency rooms across the country are facing. He is a physician in an emergency room and has personally experienced the drain that patients with non-urgent medical issues are placing on emergency room staff by not having these conditions first examined by a primary care doctor. In light of his vast experience in some of the most demanding medical care environments, Dr. Eric Forsthoefel has been sought after for his personal and professional views on how to best alleviate the pressure that emergency rooms across the nation are under to treat even more patients with fewer resources.
The startling lack of access to viable primary care options has been universally discussed as the major culprit behind the rising number of people who visit the emergency room with non-urgent conditions. Many blame this reality on insurance coverage options that do not adequately protect people who need to see a specialist or address non-urgent issues. Patients who are on Medicaid are much more likely to visit an emergency room for a non-urgent need because they may not be able to afford the co-pay that they would otherwise be charged for seeing a provider other than a primary care physician. Visiting the hospital emergency room is the only option that those patients feel they have to get seen by the requisite specialist without having to consider personal bankruptcy.
One of the nuances of this issue that Dr. Eric Forsthoefel points out is that the cost of primary care is not the only factor at play here. Some patients who can afford a visit to a primary care doctor for a non-urgent issue might simply not have access to one. Primary care offices are known to keep more traditional business hours, which means that a doctor might not be available when a patient is injured in the evening. Dr. Eric Forsthoefel has suggested that there is an opportunity for primary care doctors to expand their typical business hours and also offer office hours on the weekends. This could also include offering a sort of walk-in option for those patients who do not necessarily need to seek emergency care but cannot wait for an appointment.
Dr. Eric Forsthoefel is wise to explain that these issues exist regardless of geography. Even in urban areas, there is a lack of primary care options for most patients. While solving the issue of rising costs of health insurance is certainly a step in the right direction, Dr. Eric Forsthoefel advises that we ultimately need to provide more readily accessible primary care options for patients of all ages to avoid crippling our emergency room resources any further.