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.