Family physicians play critical role in ED care in urban hospitals

While the contributions primary care physicians make to emergency medicine in rural areas is well-established, new research published in the journal American Family Physician has found family physicians are important to emergency department care in urban hospitals as well.

Gerald Banks, MD, a researcher from the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, analyzed emergency codes submitted to Medicare in 2012 by EDs. Dr. Banks categorized the claims by the hospitals' rural, urban or suburban location and by the medical specialty — be it emergency, family or internal medicine.

Dr. Banks' study revealed family physicians submitted nearly 12 percent of the 15 million urban claims and both family physicians and internists submitted 21 percent of all urban ED claims. Additionally, the number of family physicians' urban claims represented 67 percent of all emergency claims submitted by family physicians.

"These data show that family physicians are doing emergency department work and they're doing it well," said Dr. Banks. "They're billing for emergency patients that are as complex as those handled by board-certified emergency doctors."

He concluded by noting that a shift in physician credentialing standards may benefit ED physician recruitment challenges while assuring the public that emergency physicians are qualified, regardless of board certification.



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