Health Ministry report finds emergency rooms beds and cases on the decline

2.8 million visits made in 2013 with primary reasons being physical trauma, infections, pregnancy and delivery.

Injured soldier evacuated to hospital (photo credit: SOROKA MEDICAL CENTER)
Injured soldier evacuated to hospital
The most common reasons for going to hospital emergency rooms in 2013 was not heart attacks, but rather physical trauma, infections, pregnancy and delivery, and respiratory and digestive problems.
Some 2.8 million emergency room visits were made during that year, including 300,000 by women at the final stages of pregnancy, according to a nearly 100-page report on emergency room statistics the Health Ministry produced for publication on Thursday. The report covered the activity of emergency rooms in 28 public medical centers around the country (not including hospitals in eastern Jerusalem).
The most common age of patients was babies before their first birthday, between 18 and 34 and over the age of 65.
Excluding pregnant women before delivery, males made more visits than females.
The number of beds in emergency rooms declined in 2013 to 0.14 per 1,000 residents compared to 0.15 in 2012. The number of visits has also dropped over the past decade, from 362 per 1,000 in 2005 to 353 in 2013. Some of this is apparently due to the expansion of private urgent care centers (such as Terem and Bikur Rofeh) for non-severe cases, where care is significantly cheaper than in hospital emergency rooms.
In 2013, 1.7 million patients went to an emergency room at least once; two-third of those went once, a quarter went two to three times, and 7 percent went four times or more. The figure for return visits has been stable in recent years, according to the report. Four percent returned within 24 hours and 18% within a month. The most common periods of the day for visits were 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m., on Friday mornings and on Saturday nights. The busiest day was Sundays.
Two-third of the patients had been referred to the emergency room by a doctor in the community, including private urgent-care centers. Those patients without a referral who do not end up as inpatients have to pay significant fees to the hospital.
The average time spent in the emergency room was 3.5 hours, an increase from the 2010 figure of 3.1. Thirty percent of those at emergency rooms were hospitalized, compared to 32% a decade ago.
Children from birth to age four were more likely to suffer physical trauma including bone fractures, infections, ear and lung infections, urinary infections, headaches, sprains, and soft-tissue and skin infections.
People over 65 complained of chest pains, respiratory problems, urinary infections, stroke, back pains, dizziness, high blood pressure, pneumonia and fractures.
The type of medical complaints varied according to the season. Respiratory infections are more common in the winter.
But patients complaining of anxiety or those who were drunk appeared throughout the year. Neurotic symptoms appeared more often during the Jewish holidays. Complaints about high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat occurred more often in the autumn and winter, while gastroenterological, skin and urinary infections were more common in the spring and summer. Road accident and other injuries were less common in the winter than in the other seasons.