In the ER.

I've been working in the ER a lot recently. It's mostly enjoyable and a good learning experience. But I certainly am sometimes left scratching my head as to why people decide to come to the ER.

Here are some good reasons to come:
1. You are in a car wreck, and have collapsed your lung and cannot breathe.
2. You have excruciating, crushing, left-sided chest pain that is associated with nausea and shortness of breath.
3. You fall and think you heard a cracking sound emanating from your left ankle.
4.Your 6 month child is breathing fast and looks like he is working extra hard to take a breath.

We in the ER can help fix these problems, and if you do not come in, there might be serious consequences.

Here are some bad reasons to come:
1. You are in a small fender-bender, but are not actually hurting anywhere, nor do you have any signs of injury.
2. You worked all day in the garden yesterday and have aching muscles, and some mild pain in your chest, worse when you move or lift your arms.
3.You have had a scratchy throat and runny nose for 2 days.
4. Your child has had a scratchy throat and runny nose for 2 days.

We in the ER will happily see you for these problems, but you will likely wait for several hours prior to seeing anyone, be told by the doctor that you are fine, possibly have expensive tests that you may not need, and get a huge bill several weeks after you are here, when you could have gotten same information for much cheaper by waiting to see your regular doctor.

I am firmly convinced that the problem in this country is not that we do not spend enough on health care, but that we spend our money foolishly. The emergency room is a wonderful and useful adjunct as part of a health care system, but if more people utilized it correctly, we would be in a much better place financially.

Please save the emergency room for actual emergencies.


j... said…
A-freaking-MEN. AMEN. AMEN. AMEN.

i decided after my ER rotation that although i love the adrenaline rush that is wheeled through the door on a stretcher, the anger that takes over said adrenaline rush once i find out the person on the stretcher has a hangnail far surpasses ANY enjoyment i found out of the ER.

so AMEN. yes, our healthcare system is a mess. but i think once people start using things (like the ER) wisely, as they were created to be used...things might just re-align themselves.
Ken Shomo said…
What if your child probably - almost certainly - swallowed a foam earplug, but seems happy and his normal self?
Aubrey said…
I would definitely not go. Just take him to the regular doctor. The foam is non-toxic, and cannot cause any real harm, and is probably working its way through his system. So you might see it again soon.
If my child passed a pearl earring with the back on, the earplug should make it through just fine. Check poop for 24 hours and you'll find it :)

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