A visit to the emergency room is usually a stressful time for the patient. They count on the medical team that sees them to provide care that meets or exceeds the standard of care. They certainly don’t expect that they will receive care leaving them in worse shape than they were before.
Recently, a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that patients who are seen by a nurse practitioner (NP) are more likely to have higher costs and worse outcomes than individuals who are seen by physicians.
This comes at a time when a shortage of emergency room doctors has some medical centers turning to NPs as a primary care option in an effort to reduce wait times. Ultimately, the increase in NPs increases health care spending by around $238 per patient, which is a 15% increase.
A look at the numbers and what they mean for you
There were two rather troubling findings that patients should know about. The first is that being seen by a nurse practitioner was associated with a 20% increase in 30-day preventable hospital admissions compared with being seen by a physician. This means that patients who are seen by the NP are more likely to be admitted into the hospital within 30 days after being seen in the emergency department.
The second is that a person seen by a nurse practitioner is likely to spend 11% longer during their stay. This keeps them away from home longer and can lead to increased costs. Even when there isn’t a longer stay, being seen by an NP can cost around 7% more for the patient. That averages out to around $66 more.
If you suffer harm because of negligence on the part of your care team in the hospital, you may choose to seek compensation. This can help to offset the increase in care costs and missed wages if you’re unable to return to work right away.