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Health Highlights: May 4, 2015

ER Visits Rising Under Health Care Reform: Study FDA Should Stop Sales of Essure Contraceptive Implant: Petition

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

ER Visits Rising Under Health Care Reform: Study

Contrary to expectations, there has been a large increase in visits to hospital emergency departments since the Affordable Care Act was implemented, according to a survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

The poll of nearly 2,100 emergency physicians found that 28 percent have seen large increases in the number of patients, and 47 percent noted slight increases, USA Today reported.

One of the goals of the Affordable Care Act was to reduce pressure on emergency departments by increasing the number of Americans who have health insurance and providing them with better access to primary care.

However, there simply aren't enough primary care doctors to handle all the newly-insured patients, according to Dr. Mike Gerardi, ACEP president and an emergency physician in New Jersey.

"They don't have anywhere to go but the emergency room," he told USA Today. "This is what we predicted. We know people come because they have to."

Another problem is that some doctors won't accept Medicaid patients because of low reimbursement rates. Fifty-six percent of the survey respondents said they had seen increases in Medicaid patients visiting the emergency department.

Also, many low-income patients have trouble accessing care. For example, they're often unable to take time off work when most primary care offices are open, forcing them to go to emergency departments, which are always open, USA Today reported.

And while it can take weeks to see a primary care doctor, patients can be seen by a doctor fairly quickly in an emergency department.

Another factor is that some people who have been without insurance for years and don't have a regular doctor are used to going to the emergency department, USA Today reported.


FDA Should Stop Sales of Essure Contraceptive Implant: Petition

Bayer's contraceptive implant Essure can cause serious complications and should be taken off the market, says a citizen's petition filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA approved Essure about 13 years ago after a review process that was fast-tracked because the device was the first alternative to surgical sterilization for women who did not want more children and offered patients a quick recovery, The New York Times reported.

Essure is a metal and polyester coil implanted in a woman's fallopian tubes to make her permanently sterile. The procedure can be done in a doctors' office in just 10 minutes.

However, since approving Essure, the FDA has received more than 4,000 reports of serious complications, including severe back and pelvic pain, coils that pierced the fallopian tubes and lodged in other organs, and heavy prolonged menstrual periods, The Times reported.

Thousands of women who say they were seriously injured by the implant want the FDA to take Essure off the market and to issue a public warning about its complications.

Both the FDA and Bayer say the device's benefits outweigh the risks, The Times reported.

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