Over the last decade, the number of people using the emergency room as their primary care place has gone up a dramatic 23 percent. In 1992, there were 90 million visits to the E.R. In 2002, that went up to 110 million visits.
Many people experience long waits for emergency treatment in crowded rooms. One of the main problems, The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay reports, is that people who do not have insurance often wait until a condition has worsened to the point that they actually need emergency-room care.
Another reason is the closing of many emergency rooms.
So who should go to the emergency room?
Minor ailments, like sprains, strains, and even some broken bones can be handled in a private doctor's's office. Using the E.R. for things like fevers, colds and sniffles is not appropriate either and if you do so, be prepared to wait a long time to be treated.
The following are some conditions for which to get emergency room treatment:
- Chest pain that lasts over two minutes. Unfortunatelly, many people wait. They've identified people waiting with chest pain as one of the major contributors to mortality, to dying outside of the hospital. So don't wait for chest pain.
- Uncontrolled bleeding. If you can't get a handle on it, that signifies a need to go to the E.R.
- Sudden or severe pain and you really are having trouble identifying the reason behind it.
- Coughing or vomiting blood. If it's quite a bit.
- Difficulty breathing, you absolutely need a trip to the E.R.
- Sudden dizziness or weakness or a sudden change of vision can be signs of a stroke. Getting treatment as early as possible is the key to getting some of the newer treatments that are available.
- Severe vomiting, or diarrhea,
- Change in mental status (someone who becomes increasingly confused). These all are signs you need to make a trip to the emergency room.
If your affliction is something relatively minor, driving yourself to the E.R. is OK. Just ask yourself the following question: If on the way to the emergency room the condition should worsen, what would you do?
For example, people suffering with chest pain, may find that the condition will worsen along the way and for that reason it is best to call an ambulance to be treated along the way to the hospital. It can save your life.