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Editorial
Apr 23, 2012

Emergency Department Care: When Needed—Not When Better Choices Are Unavailable

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Los Angeles, California.

Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(8):609-610. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.152

The increasing use of emergency departments (EDs) is a perplexing problem across the United States. Between 1997 and 2007, a national study1 showed that ED visits increased almost twice as much as what would have been expected from the size of the population growth. When EDs are crowded, patients who have serious problems are at risk for delayed treatment. In addition, ED care is expensive, is unlikely to provide needed preventive care, and does not facilitate continuity in physician-patient relationships, a key component of quality care.

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