EMS Beat: When to visit the emergency room

By Albee Bockman, AEMT-P

Doctor’s office/Urgent Care or Emergency Room?

How many times have you asked yourself that question when you or a loved one becomes ill and needs medical atten­tion? This topic needs to be addressed– and for good reason.

Whenever we become ill, whether it is a child, a parent, a grandparent, or a dear friend, our emotions sometimes get the best of us and we panic. With the implementation of the Af­fordable Care Act and other health care plans, many of us have seen a spike in our premiums, deductibles, and loss of our once personal physicians. Many have been unable to afford any kind of health insurance at all. This situation has add­ed approximately 900,000 more citizens in New York State once having private insurance to the Medicaid system. This has caused many people to seek medi­cal attention from our local hospital emergency rooms. Although it is available 24 hours a day, the ER setting may not always be the most appropriate venue to get help.

The Emergency Room has now become the “First Stop” for many of us in time of need. This has caused our emergency rooms to become congested and cre­ated long wait times to see a doctor. If your situation is non-emergency, you will be triaged, seated, and waiting so that more seriously ill patients can be seen expe­ditiously. This sometimes causes frustration, anger, and negative opinions of our hospitals through no fault of their own. All ar­eas of healthcare have been “streamlined” in order to financially accommodate the influx of people requir­ing medical care.

As responsible citizens, we must respect and assist our hospitals by choos­ing the most appropriate facility to meet our needs. Here are some suggestions:

Doctor’s Office/ Urgent Care

* Allergies

* Colds/Flu/Fever

* Ear Pain/infection

* Sore throat/cough

* Minor cuts/burns

* Rashes

* Sprains/strains/simple fractures

* Insect bites

* Urinary Tract Infections

*Severe burns/cuts

*Minor asthma

Emergency Room

* Chest Pain

* Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

* Sudden paralysis/slurred speech

* Unconsciousness

* Severe headaches

* Severe injuries/trauma

* High fever

* Shock

* Uncontrolled bleeding

* Visible fractures

Hope these hints are helpful to you. Your hospi­tals and EMS profession­als surely appreciate it! Be well and safe out there, Hurleyville!