Over 1.8 million emergency room visits related to a diagnosis of eczema took place between 2006 and 2012, costing patients hours of waiting and their insurance providers millions of dollars. What’s more, the trend indicates the number will continue to rise. The question is, why? The likely answer—besides the fact that it takes forever to secure an appointment with a dermatologist—is that too many people are unfamiliar with the full capabilities of their closest urgent care center. Laura Kwa, BA and Jonathan I. Silverberg, MD, PhD, MPH of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University walked an audience through the numbers at the recent annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, acknowledging that sudden flairs of eczema really do need immediate attention. They also specifically noted, however, that the associated “intractable pruritus and comorbid health conditions…may prompt urgent care visits,” going on to confess that “little is known about the urgent care utilization for [eczema] in the U.S.” To avoid the prospect of patients coming to you with an earache but running to the ED the next week because of an eczema flair, create literature or signage detailing the many complaints you and your staff are prepared to treat—in less time and at a lower cost than in the ED. In addition, be vigilant for signs of dermatologic issues and let patients know they can walk in to see you the next time they have an acute exacerbation.
Eczema Patients Are Flocking to the ED—Could You Treat Them, Saving Time and Money?