Long empty hospital corridor (illustrative).
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A total of 2.9 million emergency room visits were made last year to 28 general hospitals by 1.7 million patients, according to a statistical study released by the Health Ministry for publication on Wednesday. The figures do not include pregnant women coming to give birth.
Just four hospitals – Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer and Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin – admitted a total of 160,000 to their emergency departments.
There were 1,171 budgeted emergency room beds in general hospitals in 2014, marking a decline of 0.144 per 1,000 Israelis compared to 0.147 four years earlier.
Less than a third of all Israelis came for treatment in emergency rooms in 2014.
The rate is relatively high among infants before their first birthday, while the rate declined somewhat between ages five and 14, and rose somewhat between ages 22 and 34. The emergency room visit rate of people aged 85 and up is 3.4 times that of the average patient. In most age ranges, not including deliveries, the rate was higher for men and boys than women and girls.
Emergency room visit rates among members of Clalit Health Services were 1.5 times higher than those of Maccabi Health Services members, due to the older ages, on average, of Clalit members.
The fact that returning patient visits (within 30 days of a first visit) to emergency rooms have declined in recent years is good news, indicating that patients were given adequate treatment the first time around.
Average bed occupancy totaled 103 percent, meaning that extra beds beyond those that were officially recognized and budgeted for were added to accommodate patients. In 2010, the occupancy rate was 91%, so the rise is not good news. During the winter season, when many non-vaccinated people suffer flu complications, occupancy rates reached as high as 231% in Rehovot’s Kaplan Medical Center.
For patients other than pregnant women, 2.74 hours was the mean waiting period for treatment in emergency rooms, marking an increase from 2.21 hours in 2010. A fifth of patients waited over five hours and 5% waited for over nine hours to be seen by a doctor.
A total of 1,731 patients died in hospital emergency rooms in 2014, 1,507 of them due to disease and 189 from external causes such as accidents.
Two-thirds of those who died in 2014 were aged 65 and above. The death rate has been steady over the last decade.
Patients who turned out to suffer digestive disorders, appendicitis, transient ischemic symptoms, gallstones, epilepsy, metabolic diseases, spinal fractures, dizziness, cancers and alcohol and drug abuse spent more time getting a diagnosis than others, according to the report.