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“Treat ‘em and street ‘em” no longer working in many ERs

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A handful of hospitals around the country are testing out programs aimed at lowering inappropriate use of emergency rooms by getting help for those who are called “super-utilizers” of emergency services.

A USA Today story gives the example of Dennis Manners, a formerly homeless man who racked up a bill of $626,143 in less than two years at University Hospital in Louisville, Ky. Most visits were not emergencies, but were often related to a seizure disorder and alcohol abuse. Manners could not pay any of the bill.

Recently, Manners was enrolled in a new program designed to stop emergency room abuse. The program spent about $6,000 finding Manners a primary care doctor and a neurologist for his seizures. He also enrolled in a substance abuse program, and part of the money went toward getting him an apartment. He’s been back to the ER only three times since he began the program eight months ago — twice for seizures and once for high blood pressure, reports USA Today.

The Kentucky program was modeled after a similar initiative in New Jersey, and other hospitals around the country have tried similar programs. Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness, told USA Today that the program is the opposite of the old “treat ‘em and street ‘em” attitude the hospital previously had.

Have you worked in a facility with a similar program? If so, was it effective, or is it a waste of resources? If not, would you like to see a similar program at your hospital?

Let us know in the comments below!

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