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Affordable Care Act results in overcrowded ERs, doctor shortages

Healthcare reform is a hot-button issue for a number of reasons. There are San Diego residents and physicians who are on both sides of the fence regarding if the Affordable Care Act is helpful or harmful. One thing that cannot be denied, according to recent studies, is the reform’s impact on emergency room staff who are expected to provide a reasonable standard of care for all patients.

Some physicians believe that the measures should have included tort reform to protect doctors from malpractice. The cost of defending a medical malpractice case in court can be as much as $140,000. In an emergency room, a medical mistake could mean a trip to court, though studies show that only 1 percent of such cases actually turn a verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

Thanks to the recent healthcare reform granting more people coverage, more people are visiting the emergency room. A study in Oregon noted that since the act was passed, there has been a 40 percent increase in the use of the emergency room. Problems can arise when physicians decide against taking patients on Medicaid as a result of being paid less. The University of San Diego Health System has launched a pilot program to combat overcrowded emergency rooms. Using cameras, patients are linked with physicians located elsewhere who conduct an exam.

A doctor shortage or even shortcomings surrounding telemedicine leaves the door open for misdiagnosis or a medical mistake. It is important for patients who suffer as a result of a doctor’s negligence to hire an attorney and pursue a malpractice claim to pay for the damages.

Source: Medscape, “Reform Overcrowds Some Emergency Departments, Empties Others,” Neil Canavan, Feb. 20, 2014    

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