May 12, 2014

Dear OU Medical Center Patient,

As Oklahoma’s only Level I Trauma Center, our community recognizes and appreciates the experienced lifesaving medical care we provide at OU Medical Center. We are committed to saving lives—It is our number one priority in the emergency room.

Like most emergency departments across the nation, we are experiencing an increased number of patients seeking our services. There are more than 50,000 visits to our emergency department each year, and many of these cases—nearly 40 percent—are non-urgent and non-emergency cases.

Our emergency department is becoming overcrowded—like so many other hospitals nationwide—with people who do not require emergency care. This results in less time and capacity to treat patients with true emergencies. Some people needing emergency care have to wait longer than necessary because we are using many of our resources for those whose medical conditions do not require emergent care.

Effective May 13, 2014, OU Medical Center will implement an Emergency Screening Program (ESP) to help identify patients early who have non-urgent and non-emergency conditions. This will allow us an opportunity to recommend alternate health care resources, as well as to improve care for our patients who truly need emergency lifesaving care.

We know you may have questions about these changes. Please know we are here to help you better understand our new processes. These efforts will ensure we provide fast, excellent care to the sickest and most severely injured people in our community. 

As in the past, when a patient first comes into the emergency department at OU Medical Center, a triage nurse will assess the nature and extent of that patient’s injury or illness. The nurse will then refer that patient to the emergency department physician or another qualified medical person.

Every person who enters the emergency department will undergo a medical screening by a qualified medical professional to determine their emergency medical condition. If a patient’s medical condition is determined to be non-emergent and non-urgent upon completion of the medical screening exam, the following options will be presented to the patient:

  1. Seek medical care and treatment at a community clinic or urgent care facility. A list of community resources will be given to the patient for their reference.
  2. Follow-up with a family physician. A primary care doctor has an advantage of providing consistency in care because the physician can develop a relationship with the patient and know his or her health history and needs.
  3. Stay to see the emergency department physician for care and treatment after being registered and paying the hospital fee or an insurance co-pay for such medical care and treatment.

The medical screening exam conducted by qualified medical personnel enables us to direct our resources to patients in need of emergency care. It also aids in educating patients about alternative, potentially lower-cost community resources for medical care and treatment for non-emergent and non-urgent conditions.

OU Medical Center prides itself on providing the highest level of care to our patients. As a valued patient, it is important to us that you are familiar with our policies and procedures. Please feel free to contact me at (405) 271-5911 with any questions you may have about our efforts.

Thank you for choosing OU Medical Center and for allowing us to care for you and your family. 

Please visit www.oumedicine.com/emergency for more resources. 

Kris Wallace

Chief Operating Officer