When should YOU Go to The Emergency Room?

Over the course of my career I have seen a wide spectrum of “Emergencies”.  When I say Emergency, I refer to that specific condition or malady which brings someone into my ER seeking my help.  The spectrum has ranged from the ridiculous to the truly terrifying.

An example of ridiculous would be a young man coming to the ER stating “For about four years now, my right shoulder sometimes makes a ‘pop’.  But it hasn’t done it in a few months.  I thought I should have you check it out”, as opposed to the terrifying, an elderly woman feeling “A little under the weather for a few days” which progressed to septicemia (a blood infection), and who was literally on the brink of death when she arrived.

The common thread here, and one that many of my colleagues and I recognize, is that many people do not know the WHEN and the WHY as it pertains to going to the ER.

In a recent BlueCross BlueShield study, it was found that between 43% and 46% of ER visits in New York State were non-emergent conditions that could have been handled by a primary care physician (PCP), or required no medical intervention whatsoever.  What I hope to illustrate for you is when to go to the ER for a condition, and when to stay home and possibly seek care elsewhere.  This will provide two benefits:

  1. You, the patient, will receive optimal care, without unnecessary waiting and testing.
  2. Your local ER will have a lower number of non-emergent patients, therefore having shorter wait times, and will be better able to provide the level of care that all patients deserve.

Beginning in my next installment, I will outline when you should and should not go to the ER for specific conditions/complaints.

Next blog: Trauma


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