Healthcare News & Insights

What puts an ER at risk of closing?

A recent study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine found three main factors put a given hospital’s emergency department at risk.

Hospitals that are for-profit, that serve higher rates of blacks, and/or serve higher numbers of Medicaid patients are far more likely to close.

The researchers looked at data from California hospitals during the period from1998-2008. Their report is available for download here.

According to the researchers, for every 10% increase in black patients served by a hospital, the risk of closing the emergency department increased by a whopping 40%. For every 10% increase in Medicaid patients, the risk jumped 17%.

For-profit hospitals in general had a 65% higher chance of closing their emergency departments than non-profits.

The study is especially troubling since emergency departments are increasingly the only provider of preventive care — especially in the poorer neighborhoods where they’re more likely to close.



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