CRF Blog

Why are emergency rooms disappearing?

by Bill Hayes

In Why are emergency rooms disappearing?, Los Angeles Times writer Amina Khan looks at the disturbing trend in the U.S.

Emergency departments in nonrural areas have been closing down at an alarming rate — and those declines may be linked to the poverty, racial demographics and competitiveness of a given area.

According to a study published online Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, emergency rooms have been closing down for two decades. In 1990, there were 2,446 hospitals in nonrural areas in the United States. In 2009, that number had dropped to 1,779 — a decline of 27%. That’s a dangerous trend, the researchers point out, because “as the only place in the US health care system that serves all patients, emergency departments (EDs) are the ‘safety net of the safety net.’ ” [more]