Rural Hospitals’ ERs Just as Effective as Urban Ones: Study

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If you live the country life, new research brings a reassuring finding: Your chances of surviving a heart attackstroke or other potentially life-threatening medical emergency at a rural emergency department are similar to odds at a city ER in the United States.

Researchers analyzed more than 470,000 outcomes among Medicare beneficiaries treated at rural and urban ERs between 2011 and 2015.

Overall 30-day death rates were 3.9% in rural ERs and 4.1% in urban ERs, according to the study. However, patients with symptoms that did not result in a specific diagnosis had higher death rates at rural ERs than urban ERs.

The researchers also found that patients in rural ERs were much more likely to be transferred than those in urban ERs, 6.2% versus 2%.

“The rural emergency department system functions well for discrete conditions that can be quickly diagnosed and approached for treatment and, if necessary, transferred,” said senior study author Dr. Keith Kocher, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Michigan Medicine-University of Michigan.

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