Frequent ER Patients

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Nine people accounted for nearly 2,700 emergency room visits in Central Texas over six years at a cost of $3 million to taxpayers and others.

The patients - eight from Austin and one from Luling - went to emergency rooms 2,678 times between 2003 and 2008.

Details are in a report from the nonprofit Integrated Care Collaboration. The providers care for low-income and uninsured patients.

The report was presented last week to the Travis County Healthcare District board.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that -- of the nine patients -- eight have drug abuse problems, seven were diagnosed with mental health issues and three were homeless.

Five are women whose average age is 40. Four are men whose average age is 50.

Experts say solutions include referring some frequent users to mental health programs or primary care doctors.

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