Specializing in critical care medicine, Dr. Eric Forsthoefel is a highly qualified and certified emergency room physician. Dr. Forsthoefel received his medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. He completed his residency in emergency medicine at Louisiana State University. With approval from various licensing boards, Dr. Forsthoefel offers his expertise in this field to many patients. During his six years of treating urgent medical cases, Dr. Forsthoefel’s education and training have fully prepared him to assess and respond to a wide range of emergencies quickly. He treats patients with expertise during a medical crisis, whether it be trauma, cardiac distress, wounds, bone fractures, severe cuts, massive bleeding, acute illness, drug overdose, or other life-threatening conditions.

Not infrequently, however, Dr. Forsthoefel and other physicians who work in emergency rooms find themselves treating patients for conditions that are not life-threatening. This situation is alarming as it impedes the physicians’ abilities to tend to those with severe conditions as swiftly as they should since everyone who comes to the ER must be provided a bed. This emerging dilemma cannot easily be resolved because there are a number of reasons why people go to hospitals’ emergency rooms rather than making appointments with physicians’ offices. When interviewed about this problem, Dr. Forsthoefel alluded to the lack of access to primary care that many have. Others do not want the delay connected to making an appointment with their physician. Financial factors are also a consideration for some as the co-pay required at a doctor’s office can be avoided in the emergency room. Also, lower-income patients often do not have a primary care physician.

In a recent interview, Dr. Forsthoefel observed, “…the increasing volume of non-urgent patient visits stretches our resources and makes it a substantial challenge to manage critically emergent medical crises that require immediate attention and constant monitoring.” Because many hospitals face this dilemma in their emergency rooms, various solutions have been suggested. One of these is to charge a co-pay to a visit to the ER as is done at the physician’s office. However, studies have revealed that the addition of a co-pay has done little to reduce the non-urgent visits to emergency rooms in the states that have adopted this practice.

Some insurance companies, such as Anthem (Blue Cross and Blue Shield), the largest insurance company in the United States, have stopped payments for “inappropriate use of ERs for non-emergencies.” In opposition to this trend, the American College of Emergency Physicians contends that it is often difficult to determine if a medical issue is “urgent” prior to the examination of a patient. Also, if patients must be worried about having to pay for their ER visit, they may not go to the hospital when their condition truly warrants immediate attention. Some ER doctors have expressed great concern that patients could die because of this new policy. They contend that primary care doctors could alleviate the problems incurred by people’s coming to the emergency room rather than the doctors’ offices if evening hour appointments were available as an alternative to non-urgent emergency room visits. And, such concern for patients is always important to Dr. Forsthoefel.

 

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