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More San Diegans Are Using ERs for Non-Emergencies

One out of five San Diego County residents was treated in a local emergency room last year. A new report from Community Health Improvement Partners shows many of these patients could have been treated

More San Diegans Are Using ERs for Non-Emergencies

One out of five San Diego County residents was treated in a local emergency room last year. A new report from Community Health Improvement Partners shows many of these patients could have been treated in a doctor's office. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has more.

The report reveals nearly 600,000 San Diegans visited emergency rooms in 2007. More than a quarter of these people were treated for injuries or poisonings. But the report says 40 percent of all ER cases could have been handled in a primary care setting.

Kristen Garrett produced the report. She says patients who think they're having a medical emergency should go to the hospital.

Kristen Garrett: But we also need to make sure that patients know that there are clinics available, there are public programs available, rather than going to the emergency room, which is really not the most cost effective way of treating patients.

About 20 percent of San Diego residents are uninsured. But Garrett says they're no more likely to visit ERs than people who have insurance.

Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.