NYC Study: Harlem Has Most ER ‘Super Users;’ Upper East Side, Fewest

Fred Mogul, Kaiser Health News, September 24, 2012

About 20 percent of New York City residents visit hospital emergency rooms annually—and in some neighborhoods, the rate is twice that, according to a new report.

The study by the United Hospital Fund found dramatic variations in ER use across the city, and it’s one of the first to analyze which people end up in the hospital the most.

Those least likely to wind up in the ER are residents of the Upper East Side and Astoria, Queens. About 9 percent make ER visits each year.

In Harlem, 40 percent of residents visit the ER—the highest rate in the city

The study, by Drs. Maria Raven and David Gould also focused on so-called “super-users,” who went to the ER more than five times annually, for three consecutive years.

Citywide, the study identified 4,147 super-users. These patients strain hospital resources, and many of their conditions could be treated better elsewhere.

For instance, asthma, which is considered relatively manageable with medication and modifications to behavior and environment, accounted for about 10 percent of the super-users’ visits.

And alcoholism and mental illness, relatively uncommon for the majority of ER visitors, occur relatively frequently among super-users—about 20 percent of the time.

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