Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Free clinics reduce emergency department visits

Date:
January 23, 2013
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
People who receive primary care from free clinics are less likely to use the emergency department for minor issues, according to a team of medical researchers.

People who receive primary care from free clinics are less likely to use the emergency department for minor issues, according to a team of medical researchers.

Related Articles


Nationally, the number of emergency departments (EDs) has decreased yet the number of ED visits has gone up, the team reported. Therefore, it is important to figure out how to reduce unnecessary ED visits.

According to the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, there are more than 1,200 free clinics nationwide. Many of these clinics work in cooperation with one of their local hospitals.

Wenke Hwang, associate professor of public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, and his colleagues analyzed records of uninsured patients from five hospitals and four free clinics across neighboring Virginia communities.

Over three years, 52,010 individual uninsured patients visited at least one of the hospitals' five emergency departments a total of 99,576 times. The researchers found that approximately 10 percent of those ED visits were by patients who had been treated at free clinics associated with the hospitals in the first two years studied. Their results are reported in a recent article in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

Hwang compared the diagnoses at the time of admittance to the emergency department between the free clinic patients and the non-free clinic patients. The five most common diagnoses were identical for both groups -- sprains and strains, disorders of teeth and jaw, superficial injury or contusion, abdominal pain and back problems. The secondary diagnoses were not as similar for the two groups, but the researchers found mental health and substance abuse to be the most common underlying condition for both groups of uninsured patients.

"Emergency department visits by free clinic patients were less likely to require the lowest levels of care, suggesting uninsured free clinic users were less likely to use the emergency department as their primary care provider," the researchers wrote.

The researchers determined that half of the ED visits in this study were avoidable, using the measurements the hospitals themselves use. By providing primary care for the uninsured, free clinics are able to help reduce non-emergency visits to the ED.

"The emergency department is an extremely expensive and inefficient way to handle many problems that show up there," said Hwang. "If hospitals support local free clinics, the ED will be less crowded and therefore have less need for expensive expansions. Free clinics are the cheaper solution."

Kimberly Liao, research associate, public health sciences, Penn State College of Medicine; Leah Griffin, statistician, biostatistical sciences, Wake Forest University School of Medicine; and Kristie Long Foley, associate professor, medical humanities, Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina, also contributed to this research.

All hospitals in this study are members of the Hospital Corporation of America, which also supported this research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Free clinics reduce emergency department visits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130123133857.htm>.
Penn State. (2013, January 23). Free clinics reduce emergency department visits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130123133857.htm
Penn State. "Free clinics reduce emergency department visits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130123133857.htm (accessed February 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The CDC is urging people to get vaccinated for measles amid an outbreak that began at Disneyland and has now infected more than 90 people. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) President Obama is expected to speak with drugmakers Friday about his Precision Medicine Initiative first introduced last week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

AP (Jan. 30, 2015) The NFL announced this week that the number of game concussions dropped by a quarter over last season. Still, the dangers of the sport still weigh on players, and parents&apos; minds. (Jan. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins