With the recent economic shifts, more and more patients are needing to rely on the Emergency Rooms for their care. As a a result, many E.R.s have become inundated with patients presenting with problems that are not truly emergencies. This has recently resulted in waiting times that are longer than normal. Long waiting times are deleterious if you in fact have a true medical or surgical emergency. After all, medical emergencies were the reason that E.R.s were developed in the first place. Recently, some hospitals have started posting the emergency room waiting times online. In fact, some will even give the option of sending you text updates directly to your mobile phone.
Starting in 2012, hospitals are supposed to begin reporting to Medicare how fast their E.R.s move certain patients through. This is a first effort at increasing quality of care across the board. In 2008, ER visits hit a new high of more than 123 million, up from 117 million in 2007. In the mean time, if you have been to an Emergency Room lately, you know that waiting times for issues that are not true emergencies can last for hours.
So I say, try to avoid going to the E.R. if you can. Believe it or not as a plastic surgeon, I treat many patients with injuries who present to the Emergency Room initially. However, many of these cases can be cared for outside of the hospital in our office or in an outpatient surgery center. Surgical issues such as facial lacerations, minor hand injuries, eye socket fractures, cheek fractures, nasal bone fractures and minor burns can usually be cared for as an outpatient. Should you, a friend or a loved one incur these types of minor injuries, try to avoid the urge to immediately flood the ER. Instead, call your doctor or Dr. Brenner so that you can be evaluated in an office setting. For minor injuries, this strategy will ultimately be more time efficient and more cost efficient for you.