Planning for emergency medical services in Boston.
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Planning for emergency medical services in Boston.

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  • English

  • Details:

    • Alternative Title:
      Public Health Rep
    • Description:
      The results of a survey of 10,200 visits to 11 Boston hospital emergency rooms during a 9-day period in March 1972 are presented. The survey was designed to provide data on emergency room use to permit more informed planning by public agencies concerned with improving areawide emergency medical services. The 11 institutions surveyed provided virtually all of the emergency medical services in the city of Boston. A majority are teaching hospitals affiliated with one or more of the three medical schools in the area. Of the 11 hospitals, 3 accounted for 60% of all emergency room visits. Survey data were extracted from emergency room log sheets and hospital medical records of individual patients. Information collected included the residence pattern of patients within the geographic area, the patient mix by degree of urgency based on presenting complaints, mode of transportation to the hospital, and age and sex of the patients. Only 15 percent of the 10,200 visits were true emergencies. Fifty-seven percent were classified as urgant and 28% nonurgent. The mix among the 11 hospitals ranged from 7 to 22 percent in the emergency category, and 11 to 61 percent in the nonurgent classification. Trauma accounted for 19 percent of all admissions, with 3 percent attributed to fractures and 4 percent to head injuries. Fifty-six percent of the emergency cases required the services of an internist or pediatrician, 38 percent a surgeon, and 1 percent an obstetrician. The highest utilization rate--27 per 1,000 population--was recorded for the under 5 age group. Although the 65 and older age group had the lowest utilization rate of 6 per 1,000, this group had the highest rate of visits classified as emergencies. Children under 5 accounted for the highest proportion of nonurgent visits. The survey revealed that 30 percent of all hospital admissions were from the emergency room. One in four emergency patients lived outside the city of Boston. A neighborhood health center and a hospital general practice unit reduced hospital emergency room workloads appreciably, even when they were open only during daytime hours. Eighty-eight percent of all patients arranged for their own transportation, usually by private automobile. Of those arriving by ambulance, only 35 percent were classified as emergencies. The survey data reinforce the conclusion that major planning efforts should be concentrated on the management of the nonemergency patient. The data also emphasize the need for a single agency to be responsible for overall planning for emergency medical services on an area wide basis.
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