Working in ER admissions the last few years has taught me many things – some of which I didn’t really want to know. I could write a book on my experiences there, but for now I would just like to clarify what seems to be a fuzzy area for many people: what constitutes a medical emergency.
Let me start by saying I am not a health care professional, and in no way do I intend for this post to be interpreted as medical advice.
1. If you can walk unassisted from your home to the hospital, you are probably not experiencing a life-threatening emergency. Especially if the hospital is located at the top of a hill.
2. Being 3 days late never justifies dragging your 2 preschoolers out at midnight to get a pregnancy test in the ER. Many dollar stores sell the same test – for a buck. Plus you and your children can sleep.
3. If your visit to the ER is determined by which doctor is working, then it’s probably not a true emergency.
4. If the person involved is bleeding excessively, you can see bone, or they are unresponsive, do not take the time to call ask-a-nurse. This is a genuine emergency.
5. If you dial 911 for an ambulance, and ask if they want you to be laying out in your front yard or just waiting inside your home, just tell the dispatcher to disregard the call and go back to bed.
6. If you have time to stop at the drive thru on your way to the hospital, you are probably not as sick as you think.
7. A paper cut is not an emergency unless you are a hemophiliac. Adhesive bandages cost less at your local discount store than an ER visit.
8. Back/side/elbow/knee or any other pain that has persisted for 3 months to 15 years or more does not suddenly become an emergency at 4 a.m. just because your brother’s buddy’s ex-wife’s mother-in-law’s sister’s husband told you he had the same thing and almost died from it.