Understanding the emergency room: Know when (and where) to go for care

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Kevin Kandalaft is the CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of California. Courtesy photo
Sustaining an injury or feeling the sudden onset of sickness can be an alarming experience. In many instances, people instinctively seek out the emergency room as a vital provider of immediate care. However, according to a study from Mercer Human Resources Consulting, 35% of emergency room users were unaware that they had alternatives for care. When experiencing a change in health, knowing when to visit the emergency room, understanding care options and having access to other resources available can save an unnecessary and time-consuming trip. The number of hospital emergency departments has remained steady since 2001, while utilization has grown about 33% in the last decade. This means time spent at the emergency room is getting longer. The California Health Care Foundation report, whi
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