Center has lower rates of emergency room visits than North or South

About one out of every three Israelis visits a hospital emergency room at least once a year due to illness, accident or childbirth - but the rate is considerably higher in the North and South than in the Center of the country, according to a Health Ministry report issued for publication on Wednesday. The report, totalling about 100 pages and covering general hospital reports between 2004 and 2007, stated that every year there are some 361 emergency room visits per 1,000 residents. In most age groups, males are most likely to need urgent care. A total of 2.5 million such visits took place in the country's general hospitals (residents of east Jerusalem and localities with fewer than 5,000 residents were not included in the survey). The highest rate of visits was among infants and the elderly (especially those over 75), while it was relatively low among children aged five to 14. The lowest rates occurred among residents of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and highest in the North (above Haifa) and the South. The most common causes for the visits were: 15% for "undefined, general diagnoses," 6% for labor, another 6% for stomach aches, 5% chest pain, 4% fever, 5% trauma to the limbs, 2% trauma to the head and face, 2% surgical complications, 2% fractures in the upper limbs, 2% gastrointestinal infections, and 1% each for back pain, eye problems, respiratory problems, viral infections, neck problems, urinary infections and fractures in the lower limbs. Ninety percent of those examined in the emergency room were treated and released; the rest were hospitalized. Infants and the elderly were more likely to end up in a ward. A third of the infants and children who had suffered burns were hospitalized, while half of the elderly over 75 who came to the emergency room suffered from fractures.