The “go to the ER” Mentality of American Medicine


Patients waiting in a hospital waiting room

Original article HERE by Edwin Leap, MD 

Currently, in American health care, experts are wringing their hands in confusion.  I mean, people have insurance, right?  And yet, health care is still expensive and dang it, people just keep going to the ER.  Visits are climbing everywhere, and I can speak from personal experience when I say that we’re tasked with more and more complex and multi-varied duties in the emergency departments of the 21st century.

I’m not a medical economist.  I do have some thoughts on the well-intentioned but deeply flawed Affordable Care Act. However, I won’t go there right now.  What I do want to address is the “go directly to the ER” mentality of modern American medicine.

Call your physician.  If it’s after hours, the recording for any physician or practice of any sort in America will have a message:  “If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 911.”  It’s a nice idea.  But of course, it presumes that everyone really understands the idea of emergency.  In fact, they don’t.  We understand that, or we try to, but we see lots of things that come in ambulances, or just come to the ER, that really aren’t.

“I feel fine, but my blood pressure is up.”

“I was bitten by a spider, and I watch nature shows, and I know how dangerous they are.”

“I have a bad cold, and I have taken two rounds of antibiotics.  I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow, but I thought I’d just come on in to get checked out.”

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