PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Hospitals have been grappling with the problem of superusers, a relatively small group of patients who account for a large number of emergency room visits. In Philadelphia, the people who transport them there are recognizing it’s a problem, too.
Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer says his department is working to reduce calls from 341 addresses identified as *ambulance* superusers.READ MORE: Triple Shooting At Penn's Landing Leaves 3 Teenagers Injured: Philadelphia Police
“It’s about 341 addresses that meet our definition of a superuser,” he says, “and a superuser is someone who calls 20 or more times over a six month period.”READ MORE: Philadelphia Weather: Heat Advisory In Effect Until Sunday Evening As Temperatures Hit Record Highs
Sawyer says many of the addresses are group facilities who don’t directly pay the thousand dollar ambulance call bill. That gets charged to the individual patient’s insurance.
“(When) someone is not feeling too well, they call 911 to get transported,” he says, “and they don’t really look at it like, this is not an emergency.”MORE NEWS: Betts Falls Triple Shy Of Cycle, Leads Dodgers Past Phillies
But Sawyer says the department has found educating the facility can help. A pilot project with Friends Hospital saw a 50% reduction in the number of calls, which, he says, cuts costs and frees up equipment for real emergencies.