- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 14, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - OU Medical Center plans to charge an extra fee to patients who receive treatment in the ER for injuries or illnesses that aren’t urgent, with the aim of alleviating overcrowding in the emergency room.

The hospital announced Tuesday that adult patients who receive care for non-emergency conditions will be charged a copay through their insurance or $200 if they are uninsured. The patients will first receive an assessment then can decide whether to receive care in the ER.

“If they choose to continue to get care in our emergency department with a non-urgent situation, then they do indeed have that option,” said Kris Wallace, chief operating officer for OU Medical Center. “At that point in time, we would ask them to either present their copay or pay a facility fee for non-urgent care in an emergency care setting.”

The Oklahoman reported Wednesday (http://bit.ly/QIAYV4 ) that about 40 percent of the 50,000 patients who sought care at OU Medical Center in 2012 did not need emergency room care.


Hospitals are required to evaluate all patients in emergency rooms, said Dr. Curt Steinhart, chief medical officer at OU Medical Center.

“If an emergency medical condition exists, we are required to see and stabilize the patient,” Steinhart said. “If there is no emergency medical condition, our obligation ends.”

Wallace said hospital staff will help patients who don’t have emergency needs or primary care providers to find community resources for medical care.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com