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Letters: Emergency room visits

October 21, 2013

I read with great dismay the theories of Drs. Jarvis, Tepe, and Schrager on why emergency room (or to be more current, emergency department) visits were increasing for adult dental problems (Letters, Sept. 2 ADA News).

I do not know the parameters of Medicaid offerings in other states, but here in Arizona the legislature in a rather short-sighted
attempt to rein in Medicaid costs eliminated the only remaining adult dental benefit—
the extraction. Since that time ED visits for adult dental pain have skyrocketed. The EDs are only able to give palliative treatment, which does not address what could become a life-threatening situation and is not definitive care.

I do not believe it is appropriate to punish these people for poor diet choices. And I cannot believe that they consciously decide to be irresponsible. The Arizona Dental Association sponsored its first Mission of Mercy event last December, and I saw thousands of people willing to stand in line for two days before the event started in hopes of getting dental treatment.

I could list many anecdotes of those two days as can anyone who has participated in these events.

I worked in routing and that exposed me to the majority of the more than 1,600 patients that were seen. The biggest revelation was that the majority of them had been middle class citizens within the past five years.

I believe we should all be thankful for this wonderful profession that provides us with enviable lifestyles. That being said, we should all give back; there, but for the grace of God, go we all.

The problem in our state is one of short-sighted politicians, but I challenge the judgmental attitude which blames these patients, many of whom are coping with circumstances totally beyond their control. It has not been my experience that these people are undeserving or unappreciative.

Martin Margetis D.D.S., M.S.
Sun City, Ariz.