The average patient in a hospital emergency room spends three hours there before being discharged or sent to an inpatient department, according to a new Health Ministry report on emergency room services released for publication on Monday. The authors found that Jerusalem and Haifa districts have the largest number of emergency room beds, while those in the South had the fewest. There were 1,017 emergency room beds at the end of last year, with 1,088 of them in general hospitals and the rest in psychiatric hospitals. A total of 2.5 million visits to emergency rooms are made each year to 28 hospitals. The total of patients going to emergency rooms has remained steady since the late 1990s, but the number of beds has risen by 139. There are also private emergency room services, such as those provided by TEREM and Bikur Rofeh in various parts of the country. These services are not part of hospitals, and refer patients there only if their condition is serious and will probably require hospitalization. Babies and the elderly are the most frequent users of emergency rooms, with 66 visits per 100 infants up to the age of one and 75 visits per 100 elderly each year, with the rate of visits by people over 85 especially on the upswing. The rate is relatively high among adults aged 25 to 34, but many of these are pregnant women. Young people aged 15 to 34 are the least likely to need emergency room care. Two-thirds of patients made one visit to an emergency room within a year, but fifth went there twice and 13% went to an emergency room three times or more. A third of the patients represented six out of 10 visits to emergency rooms. The busiest time in emergency rooms is between noon and midnight, while Sunday is usually the busiest day of the week. In general, men are more likely to go to emergency rooms than women, except for young adult females - especially those who are pregnant - and those who are over 65. Most people went to emergency rooms close to their place of residence. About two-thirds of people going to emergency rooms suffer from illness, while a quarter suffer from external injuries, including physical trauma caused by accidents or violence. A tenth go to deliver babies. Young men are much more likely than women to suffer from external injuries. Boys up to age 15 were more frequently received in illness-related emergencies than girls of the same ages. Between 45 and 74, men and women showed the same rates of visits to emergency rooms. Patients bringing referrals from their doctor were more likely to visit during the day and evening, while those without referrals tended to come between midnight and 8 a.m. The most common diagnoses among children and teens up to 18 were fever, viral and gastroenterological infections, ear infections, upper respiratory infections and asthma. In elderly over 65, the most common problems were pneumonia, urinary infections, heartbeat problems, anemia and coronary insufficiency. About a third of those reaching emergency rooms are hospitalized as inpatients; and this rate has remained steady over the years. The rest went for external problems, delivery, intentional harm, terror, road accidents and work accidents, in that order. Almost half of patients suffering from illness returned to the emergency room during the same year: 19% within a month, 9% within a week and 3% within 24 hours. The rate of those with external injuries was 22% within a year, 7% within a month, 5% within a week and 2% within 24 hours.