5 Dos and Don’ts of Using the ER

Emergency Sign With Copy SpaceCall any doctor’s office and you’re likely to hear a message like this: “If you are getting this message and need medical attention, call 911 and go to the nearest ER.” Should you follow this advice? Not always.

The ER can be very expensive, time consuming and not always the best place to go for basic medical care.

There are some basic Dos and Don’ts when it comes to the ER.

DO go to the ER when:

  1. You have a life threatening problem, such as a heart attack, stroke, etc.
  2. You were in a serious accident.
  3. You are unconscious.
  4. You are bleeding heavily or are in excessive pain.
  5. You have been directed to do so by your doctor.

It is important to understand that the ER is intended to take care of severely sick people. The hospital will determine who in the ER is the sickest and take those people first. So if you go to the ER for basic medical care you will likely be waiting a long time. Often you will wait only to be seen and told to go to your own doctor the next day. If this happens, you have paid a lot of money for an expensive ER visit when you could have just waited until your doctor opened in the morning. 

So when should you skip the ER?

DON’T go to the ER when:

  1. You have a basic cold or virus.
  2. You need to see a specialist, but it is not urgent.
  3. You need to see your doctor – it’s not likely your doctor will come to the ER.
  4. You need to get a test which is not urgent.
  5. You can wait until your doctor’s office opens in the morning.

Have you ever gone to the ER and wished later that you had not? I’d love to hear from you!

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