Long empty hospital corridor (illustrative).
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The rate of visits to Israeli hospital emergency rooms in 2015 – not including those made by pregnant women – declined all over the country, except in the North.
The number of those who visited at least once in the year was 1.7 million, of which 26% went for medical help two or three times and 7% visited four times or more. A total of 2.9 million visits were made to hospital emergency rooms around the country.
These statistics were provided by the Health Ministry in its annual report on emergency rooms. There were 1,176 budgeted emergency-room beds in all the general hospitals – 0.14 per 1,000 residents, compared with 0.15 in 2010.
Emergency medical centers – whether private or publicly funded – are trying to reduce the pressure on hospital emergency rooms for patients who can be treated in the community and sent home.
The average amount of time that patients spent in emergency rooms was 2.9 hours, an increase from 2.5 hours in 2012, when 22% of patients who were not hospitalized for continuing care spent over five hours at the hospital. Occupancy rates in emergency rooms rose from 110% on average in 2012 to 111% in 2015, showcasing the problem of overcrowding, which is significantly worse in the winter due to complications of the flu.
Emergency rooms were busiest between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., most crowded on Sundays and least crowded on Shabbat. Fully 67% of the patients came with a referral to emergency departments from a doctor, 72% suffered from a disease, 13% came due to pregnancy and the rest from external causes such as accidents or violence.
According to the report, 2,057 patients died in an emergency room in 2015: 1,807 from disease and the rest from external causes.