More People Abusing Emergency Rooms in Wisconsin

Doctors say emergency rooms in Wisconsin are busier than ever.
The state is now number one for E-R visits since the Affordable Healthcare Act passed.
The short answer - its easier to go to the E-R than find a doctor in the state and until there are more doctors, people that now have access to healthcare are going to do what many have always done.
The E-R is designed to help people with appendicitis but the E-R is being used by too many people with just a headache

"Most people that come to the E-R feel like they have an urgent issue happening and without that access to a primary care doctor they used the emergency department," says Dr. Decker.

Dr. Chris Decker is an emergency room physician at Froedtert Hospital.
He says since the Affordable Care Act passed - E-R visits here are up about 8 percent and they aren't going back down

"We are busier we can take care of them, its an expensive way to take care of primary care illness so the domino affect is that resources are being shifted to people who have minor illnesses," says Dr. Decker.

Dr. Decker says while ACA gave people access to a primary care doctor, in Wisconsin there aren't enough available. For nearly 6 million people there are about 7600 doctors.

"I think it will be a number of years before it's corrected. I know the state is working hard to expand primary care physicians and working hard to expand nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists," says Dr. Decker.

Until things change - at some hospitals people can pay a flat fee - and talk to a doctor through a camera from wherever they are.

"Telehealth is one option, email or e-consult is another option, there are lots of digital devices that actually can measure blood pressure heart rate blood sugars. You can essentially almost have an inpatient bed at home," says Dr. Decker.

Dr. Decker says that is a glimpse into the near future but overall - changing habits will be hard.

"We have a lot of trust to earn from the patients to show that when they call their primary care doctor that they'll be able to see them on the day that they have care," says Dr. Decker.

Froedtert Hospital has a new tele-health system for patients. Here is the link.

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