Baltimore may be the home to some of the country's finest hospitals, but the rate at which they are providing routine medical care that could (and should) be treated in a doctor's office or clinic shows "a fundamental failure" of the city's health system. That blunt assessment, in the Baltimore Sun, comes from the city's health commissioner himself, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein.
Data from a RAND Corp. study shows Baltimore residents are being hospitalized or treated in emergency rooms for conditions like asthma and high blood pressure at rates that are roughly twice those in surrounding counties and statewide. Nearby Washington, D.C., which has a similar proportion of uninsured, low-income residents, has lower rates. (Baltimore: 42 avoidable hospitalizations per 1000 residents, Washington 28 per 1000)
Sharfstein says the problem stems from clinics that are stretched to capacity and a shortage of primary care doctors who serve poor people.