Health Care In The States

NYC Study: Harlem Has Most ER ‘Super Users;’ Upper East Side, Fewest

By Fred Mogul, WNYC

September 24th, 2012, 12:01 AM

About 20 percent of New York City residents visit hospital emergency rooms annually — and in some neighborhoods, the rate is twice that, according to a new report.

Photo by numbphoto via Flickr

The study by the United Hospital Fund found dramatic variations in ER use across the city, and it’s one of the first to analyze which people  end up in the hospital the most.

Those least likely to wind up in the ER are residents of the Upper East Side and Astoria, Queens. About 9 percent make ER visits each year.

In Harlem, 40 percent of residents visit the ER — the highest rate in the city

The study, by Drs. Maria Raven and David Gould also focused on so-called “super-users,” who went to the ER more than five times annually, for three consecutive years.

Citywide, the study identified 4,147 super-users. These patients strain hospital resources, and many of their conditions could be treated better elsewhere.

For instance, asthma, which is considered relatively manageable with medication and modifications to behavior and environment, accounted for about 10 percent of the super-users’ visits.

And alcoholism and mental illness, relatively uncommon for the majority of ER visitors, occur relatively frequently among super-users — about 20 percent of the time.

The study authors say the figures underscore the need to further develop medical homes — centers within hospitals and clinics that intensively focus on all aspects of the lives of high-need patients.

Starting next month, under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will penalize hospitals that don’t do enough to keep those who are admitted from coming back repeatedly for preventable reasons.

The data for the study comes from a combination of city and health departments and individual hospitals from 2006 to 2008. It was funded by a grant from the New York State Department of Health.

6 Responses to “NYC Study: Harlem Has Most ER ‘Super Users;’ Upper East Side, Fewest”

  1. jackie stearn says:

    NYC Study: Harlem Has Most ER ‘Super Users;’ Upper East Side, Fewest?

    Why change it? Ask any Republican and they will tell you this is how things should be in the wealthiest nation on earth. The haves versus the have nots. Class warfare at its finest. This is the heart of the Paul Ryan Budget for America’s health care system.

  2. myradeen says:

    To Jackie in previous comment- take another look we are not the most wealthy nation on earth give that to Saudi Arabia

  3. SteveH says:

    Quibbling over whether the US is the richest nation on earth is a distraction. The US economy is many, many times larger than either Switzerland’s or Saudi Arabia’s. (And the Saudi economy is a one-trick pony. Other than oil production, they produce virtually nothing.)
    Measured by per capita GDP, the US is lower than a few, small countries that mostly rely (like Saudi Arabia) on oil. The idea that the US can’t do better than have a system where a sizable proportion of its population is told, “Wait until your health problem is an emergency, then go to an ER.” is simply ridiculous.

  4. Kyle says:

    All are missing the problem. We have a behavior issue in this country that strains the system and makes it financially difficult to allocate funds to places of need. While there is more than enough money, people are being irresponsible with their own health (see national obesity statistics) which creates long term, expensive, avoidable conditions like diabetes and heart disease. If we could curb the care and dollars that are spent on treating avoidable conditions, we would have more than enough assets to implement a care system that was comprehensive and sufficient for the portions of our country that are in need. If anyone on this post consumes more than 2,500 calories a day, is inactive, regularly eats or drinks fatty foods, etc. than you are contributing to the care crisis as much as every politician. Care is limited, by people available and dollars available. When those things are focused on people and conditions that could be avoided by better behavior we find ourselves strapped and unable to support the ones who need care the most.

  5. Mark says:

    “Why change it? Ask any Republican and they will tell you this is how things should be in the wealthiest nation on earth. The haves versus the have nots. Class warfare at its finest. This is the heart of the Paul Ryan Budget for America’s health care system.”

    Most of these people don’t work and leach off of the system. These “evil Republicans” are paying confiscatory taxes to give the welfare cases ER service, close to the best in the world. While we pay extremely high taxes and healthcare costs, these leaches and drug addicts get everything for free. Whether it’s some welfare queen in section 8 housing, or some drug addict homeless guy, they are constantly calling ambulances for the most petty ailments and pains. It’s a free luxury ride and a spa treatment for them. They get everything for free. If a hardworking taxpayer has a real problem, they are stuck with a bill for several thousand dollars. Sorry, your “Republicans are evil” speech lost its meaning years ago. This country is becoming a third world hell hole because of liberals. We are sick of liberals. We pay for everything, we build everything, and you extort most of our income and labor to support criminals who hate us. How much more do you think we will put up with? It doesn’t matter who wins the election. Real Americans are about to revolt and take the country back. We have been r aped too many times.

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