'Each year, 1 in 3 Israelis sent to emergency room'

Health Ministry report finds two thirds arrive at hospitals due to disease, external causes or to give birth.

January 30, 2013 04:40
2 minute read.
Underground emergency center in Ichilov Hospital

Ichilov underground hospital 521. (photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)


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More than one out of three Israelis reach the emergency rooms in the 28 general hospitals in a single year, according to a statistical report the Health Ministry issued on Tuesday that covers the years 2009 to 2011.

The rate has remained steady in recent years.

Some 360 people out of every 1,000 end up in the emergency rooms due to disease (two-thirds), external causes (such as road accidents, violence and others) or to give birth, the 61- page report, written by ministry information branch head Ziona Haklai, said. Excluding deliveries, the rate for visiting emergency rooms is 313 per 1,000 people.

The most common ages for visiting emergency rooms, excluding deliveries, are babies, young people of military service age, and those over the age of 75. The lowest rate is among children aged five to 17.

Going to an emergency room is more common in the periphery, especially in the North, compared to in Tel Aviv, Haifa and the Center of the country. But Jerusalem has shown the greatest reductions in emergency room visits – thanks to the popularity and high level of care at the private Terem urgent care centers in the capital, according to the report.

Thus the cost of urgent care is cheaper for the healthcare system, because hospital emergency rooms are significantly more expensive than urgent care clinics.

Calculated by taking consideration of age, the rate of visits to Jerusalem emergency rooms in hospitals is only 241 per 1,000 people, compared to 419 in the North and 355 in Tel Aviv.

Another trend shown by the statistical report is that poor people are significantly more likely to visit emergency rooms than those who are better off.

The report confirmed claims by Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center that its emergency room is the most active in the capital. A total of 34.2 percent of non-obstetrics visits are at Shaare Zedek, compared to 29% at Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem, 22.8% at Hadassah University Medical Center on Mount Scopus and 6% at Bikur Cholim Hospital.

Terem opened an private urgent care center at Bikur Cholim a few weeks ago instead of the hospital’s emergency room when Shaare Zedek took over the financially troubled institution in the center of town. Patients who are sick enough to have to be hospitalized are transferring to Shaare Zedek or one of the Hadassah hospitals.

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