An Oklahoma City hospital has created an additional fee for patients who seek treatment in the emergency room for non-life-threatening ailments and injuries.
OU Medical Center officials announced Tuesday that, starting this week, adult patients assessed in the hospital’s ER who don’t have emergency medical needs will be charged — either their copay or $200 if they are uninsured — if they choose to still receive care through the ER after that assessment.
“If they choose to continue to get care in our emergency department with a nonurgent 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 nonurgent care in an emergency care setting.”
Hospital officials say the policy change is a result of overcrowding in the emergency room.
About 40 percent of the 50,000 patients who sought care at OU Medical Center in 2012 weren’t suffering from serious conditions that would call for emergency room care, according to the hospital.
Because of federal laws, hospitals are required in emergency rooms to evaluate all patients and determine whether an emergency medical condition exists, said Dr. Curt Steinhart, chief medical officer at OU Medical Center.