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† D. A Population-Based Study of Emergency Room Departments

Narrator: This is Science Today. According to a national population-based study, four out of five Americans who visit emergency room departments are insured and have primary care physicians. The results, analyzed by Dr. Ellen Weber of the University of California, San Francisco, dispels a common belief that the overuse of emergency departments are caused by people who donít have insurance or doctors.

Weber: One of the implications of that myth has been policy, which has been to assign everybody and every insurance company a primary physician with the hope that that will keep them from coming to emergency departments.

Narrator: Instead, Weber say the problem may be with the outpatient health care system not being able to adequately handle the needs of patients.

Weber: Patients cannot get in to see their physicians when they need to. Emergency departments are open twenty-four hours a day and many people donít have their emergencies between 9-to-5. This is not a matter of convenience, as a lot of people like to think, itís really a matter of need.

Narrator: For Science Today, Iím Larissa Branin.