Need to go into the hospital, but your problem isn’t life threatening? Instead of sitting for hours in the emergency room, work with your doctor to be directly admitted.
Many patients don’t know they can bypass the emergency room and be directly admitted to the hospital. Most people use the ER as the entry point for a stay at the hospital. Some are in a truly life-threatening situation where minutes count so they’re in the right place. But many have an ongoing condition, such as congestive heart failure or diabetes, that sometimes requires them to spend time in the hospital. In those cases, hospitals may allow their doctors to directly admit patients to a hospital room, saving everyone time and money.
The emergency room is designed for emergencies. The ER quickly evaluates (triages) every patient to determine how fast he or she needs care. If you have an ongoing problem that isn’t life threatening, you will generally wait a long time to get any further attention. This can be very frustrating for patients who know they’ll be admitted but must wait for the ER staff to first treat real emergencies (gunshot wounds, heart attacks, etc). It will often take them a long time to get a doctor on staff at the hospital to see you. If it’s after hours or on the weekend, the hospital doctor will often know nothing about your history. So, he or she may then run a bunch of tests to figure out what your problem is. But, if you talk to your primary care doctor or specialist in advance, you may be able to avoid this hassle.
If you have a doctor who regularly sees you for your healthcare needs, it’s much better to have that doctor determine what you need and when you should be hospitalized since they know your medical history.
The way to avoid wasting time in the emergency room is to talk to your doctor ahead of time.
You should ask your doctor:
- What hospital your doctor goes to.
- Does that hospital have a direct admit policy.
- If your doctor thinks you should be in the hospital, ask if he or she will write an order to have you directly admitted to a room.
- Find out what days of the week and times of day the hospital accepts direct admissions.
Having this discussion with your doctor in advance will save you the time and expense of having to sit in the emergency room for hours when you know you need to be admitted to the hospital.