Reducing ER visits for minor injuries and illnesses may not save much money

Reducing trips to the emergency room for minor injuries and illnesses may not reduce healthcare costs much, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. 

The study examined the potential cost savings for three categories of emergency room visits - emergencies, intermediate/complex conditions and minor injuries/illnesses. 

Key findings:

  • For minor injuries and illnesses, the potential cost savings were between 0.25 percent and 0.8 percent of healthcare costs.   
  • For true emergencies, there were no cost savings, as they could only be treated in the ER.
  • For intermediate and complex conditions, the potential savings amounted to a maximum of 2.5 percent of all healthcare spending. 

The authors conclude that targeting complex conditions aimed at reducing admissions improving the efficiency of ER care for these conditions could help to save healthcare costs. 

(Sources: The Annals of Internal Medicine, http://www.annemergmed.com/, July 16, 2012; The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, July 16, 2012; UPI.com, http://www.upi.com/, July 15, 2012)