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What is Causing ER Visit Spikes in the Tri-State Area?

Posted on March 1, 2017

Long wait times in the Emergency Room are nothing new, and we’ve written in the past about how long you should wait in the ER and how certain trends can cause a spike in visits. However, the latest phenomenon at the root of longer-than-normal wait times at emergency rooms in the tri-state area is heroin overdoses, according to a recent article.

The article reported that overdoses from heroin, fentanyl and other opioids and narcotics represent hundreds of cases annually in Pennsylvania emergency rooms, and while that represents a relatively small portion of the tens of thousands of Pennsylvania ER visits, their numbers are increasing. Medical experts are tracking them via the number of doses of the treatment drug, naloxone (also known as Narcan), that were administered.

Specifically, the number of doses tracked at two Pennsylvania hospitals increased by 34 percent from 2014 to 2015 at one, and 29 percent at another during that same period. The article noted, however, that the number of doses of Narcan may not be an exact indicator, as the drug may be used safely even when staff are unsure that a patient has overdosed.

Regardless, hospitals are making accommodations to address the spike in ER visits for all patients, the article reported. “While the number of cases of overdoses from opioids, heroin and other narcotics increased in the emergency department last year compared to 2015, we budget and staff to meet all patients’ needs regardless of diagnosis,” said Cindy Lewis, the emergency department director for Meritus Medical Center.

Proper staffing is important to address these spikes, as extended ER wait time may impact treatment. Those that suspect they may have encountered a problem during emergency room treatment or in an urgent care setting should contact an experienced ER injury attorney to discuss their legal options.

You are welcome to contact us at any time with questions related to this post, or if you have a specific legal situation you would like to discuss.