Record-High ED Visits Spur Medical Center Hospital in Texas to Design New Screening Process

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Medical Center Hospital in Odessa, Texas, has developed a new screening process to cope with record-high emergency department volumes, according to a CBS 7 report.

On Monday, MCH had 195 ED visits — a record for the 362-bed hospital, which sees an average of 130 patients a day. However, J.R. Edmiston, MCH's director for patient financial services, said 75 percent of the ED patients did not have a true medical emergency, according to the report.

Under the new screening process, each patient will be briefly examined by a nurse practitioner, physician's assistant or ED physician to determine if the patient's condition merits an ED visit. If the clinician judges the condition to not be an emergency, the patient can either pay a fee to be treated in the ED — $250 for patients without insurance and a co-pay for insured patients — or seek care from a primary care physician or urgent care clinic, based on the clinician's recommendation.

The new process is designed to help patients receive care at the appropriate setting, reduce costs for the patient and prevent ED overcrowding. MCH also hopes the new protocol will connect patients with a primary care physician or other provider who can offer regular medical attention to prevent ED visits in the first place.

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