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Study examines ER frequent visitors

“Frequent flyers” can cost hospitals a lot of money.

Dr. Robert E. O’Connor with the American College of Emergency Physicians said some patients head to the ER several times a month feeling sick.

“This is of interest to us because we’re looking at ways to cut the cost and maybe find other pathways for these patients to receive needed care,” O’Connor said.

A new study by the ACEP showed there is a common misconception about patients who use the ER more than others. O’Connor said it’s not true that most of them are homeless or have substance-abuse problems.

“We found that a lot of these patients have acute medical problems that really necessitate hospital admissions to get better,” he said.

O’Connor said the number of “frequent flyers” sat in Arizona’s hospitals is similar to the rest of the country, accounting for about 20 percent of all ER patients.