Three Commons Myths About the Emergency Room (And Why They’re Wrong)

Three Commons Myths About the Emergency Room (And Why They’re Wrong)

Health and Fitness May 6, 2014

Emergency room seattle

Did you know that half of all patients visit to emergency rooms aren’t really emergencies? People tend to be overly cautious with their health, which is a good thing of course, until it begins costing health care providers an estimated $38 billion per year. Yes, that’s billion with a B.

As strange as it may be, frequent trips to the ER when they’re not really necessary can be disastrous to the health care industry. That’s why so many patients have wised up and migrated to 24 hr walk in clinics and urgent care centers in their communities — a fact proven by the sheer number of clinics that have popped up since the 1970s, which is now in the thousands. In certain situations, it just makes more sense to opt for urgent care over the ER.

That begs the question, what other myths about the ER have become permanent fixtures of the public consciousness?

Ambulance rides aren’t just taxi rides to treatment.

This is a bit of an exaggeration, of course, but just because you feel sick or are dealing with an injury doesn’t mean you can call an ambulance as your personal ride to the hospital. A recent New York Times article referred to ambulances as roving emergency rooms, and that’s absolutely correct. They’re staffed with life-saving professionals. If you don’t need medical attention immediately, save the ambulance ride for someone who does. And if the numbers are any indication, you could be saving hundreds of dollars in the process by driving yourself.

You’ll be seen much more quickly in the ER.

Whoever believes this is just flat-out misinformed. Since the rise of urgent care centers and other 24 hr walk in clinics, patients have a choice when it comes to dealing with their injuries and illnesses — wait four hours (the average time at the ER) or 15 minutes (the average for urgent care). Of course, it’ll all depend on the nature of your injuries, and if you’re afraid your life’s in jeopardy, always visit an ER. For everything else, urgent care should work just fine.

Most ER patient are insured, meaning they get the service for free.

Again, this is just a case of bad information. Studies report that nearly 85% of all patients who seek emergency room care have some kind of insurance, whether it’s through Medicare, Medicaid or SCHIP. And enrollment numbers from the Affordable Care Act have pointed toward the possibility of an ER boom because of how many Americans now have insurance that didn’t before. That could be good news for hospitals but bad news for folks in the waiting room. That’s why 24 hr walk in clinics might be a better option.

For more information, visit your local clinic to find out what kinds of injuries, illnesses and conditions they can treat right on-site. Continue reading here.