It is common to hear people say that they need to go to the Emergency Room for whatever is ailing them. As a result, in many areas of our country, ERs are being overrun and clogged up with medical visits that are not true emergencies. This makes it more difficult for physicians to attend to those patients with serious, life-threatening conditions in a timely manner. Although this list is not exhaustive, patients with sudden severe chest pain, acute shortness of breath, loss of consciousness, significant and rapid blood loss, very high and uncontrollable fever, multiple and/or unstable fractures, severe head injuries and sudden stroke symptoms such as paralysis should seek immediate emergent care. Most other problems can be managed competently and efficiently at the patient’s primary care physician’s office or at an urgent care center.
In addition to impeding access to care for critically ill or injured patients, ER visits for more routine problems have other disadvantages. ER visits are up to ten times more costly to evaluate and manage the same medical problem and usually involve much longer wait times to see the physician, up to eight hours in some situations. Furthermore, medical care may not be as good because the physician does not intimately know the patient’s medical history. Continuity of care generally tends to be superior to episodic care.
Richard R Samuel, MD Family Practice and Urgent Care was designed to address the need of competent medical care in a timely, cost-effective fashion for chronic as well as less emergent, immediate medical needs. The ER is an important part of our community, but should be reserved for true, life-threatening emergencies.