Dr. Eric Forsthoefel is an ER physician who works in a Florida hospital and concentrates on emergency medical care. From 2009 to 2012, Dr. Forsthoefel attended the University of Louisville’s medical school, upon completion of which he joined Louisiana State University to complete his emergency medicine residency. After this, Dr. Forsthoefel acquired from a number of licensing boards approval to provide his expertise in emergency medicine to patients. The American Board of Emergency Medicine certified Dr. Forsthoefel to practice medicine, specifically in this concentration.
A holder of both a Louisiana State Medical license –- active since 2013 –- as well as a Florida State Medical license as of 2014, Dr. Forsthoefel has above six years experience in caring for patients’ medical problems in an emergency room backdrop.
His work in medical school and his residency practice has combined to give Dr. Forsthoefel a unique set of skills pertaining specifically to emergency medicine. Such training has enabled him to a evaluate, respond to and treat patients who are in need of acute medical help. Difficult and acute medical situations that Dr. Forsthoefel has handled include those arising from fractures, trauma, cuts, cardiac distress and other emergency illnesses.
Dr. Forsthoefel was recently quoted in an article about emergency room trends across the country published online at patch.com. According to the article -– which discussed broad trends in medical care but emphasized those happening in Florida -– one of the most serious and thus far intractable problems facing hospitals and policymakers in the U.S. is the large number of people using emergency rooms to receive non-urgent medical care.
According to polls and data, significant numbers of people seeking non-urgent medical care in ER departments has been a problem since the 1990s. In 2014, the American Journal of Managed Care published a report that sought to comprehensively compile data going back the 1990s. The report reviewed 63 studies, as well as nearly 2,000 research abstracts. What this influential study and other data reveal is that, on average, 37 percent of all visits to the ER were found, either before or after the first assessment, to be non-urgent.
Dr. Forsthoefel was quoted at length for the article. In it, he said that he has personally seen hundreds of patients seeking out non-urgent medical care in the ER department. He ascribed this phenomenon –- which he stressed was quite problematic and critical — to the scarcity of adequate access for people to primary care medicine.
After stressing that he and his colleagues and staff provide the best care no matter how urgent a patient’s need is, Dr. Forsthoefel described this phenomenon as problematic because it stretches thin the resources available to deal with truly urgent and critical cases. Dr. Forsthoefel summed up by explaining that this ongoing and in some cases increasing practice makes ERs all across the country inefficient and less effective.
As policymakers, health insurers and health care workers try to deal with this problem, some solutions have been tried to little –- and in some cases, detrimental -– effect. First of all, the severity of any illness is rarely clearly evident to people experiencing symptoms. Chest pain may be due to a spicy meal or it may be due to an impending heart attack. This is why a trend by some insurers to deny coverage for non-urgent ER care is alarming the American College of Emergency Physicians.
The article concludes that any solution will probably need to make primary care more readily accessible to people –- especially less affluent patients -– as well as more convenient for all.