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Old 01-20-2010, 12:31 PM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
3,406 posts, read 8,990,415 times
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One of the statements I keep seeing over and over on the Healthcare Reform debate is that some people "abuse" the system by using Emergency Rooms and hospitals to treat mundane problems that should've been dealt with outside with a family doctor, paid for by the patient's insurance.

Does this really happen with any frequency? I know that a hospital must see and "stabilize" any patient who comes in, but I haven't read anything that says they must actually treat them.
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Old 01-20-2010, 12:47 PM
 
43,012 posts, read 88,958,716 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superk View Post
One of the statements I keep seeing over and over on the Healthcare Reform debate is that some people "abuse" the system by using Emergency Rooms and hospitals to treat mundane problems that should've been dealt with outside with a family doctor,
It takes four to six weeks for me to get a sick visit with my doctor. As a result, there have been very rare occassions where I have used the emergency room for something that might not have been an emergency but couldn't wait four weeks. We don't have urgent care or clinics in our area. My doctor's office has become more of a place to go for annual physicals or for management of longterm illnesses, not somewhere to go when sick.

If you think four to six weeks is a long time to see your PCP, it takes 6 to 8 months to get an appointment with a dermatologist where I live. Of course, I don't go to the ER for that. I just thought I'd share how much it sucks to see a dermatologist here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by superk View Post
paid for by the patient's insurance.
Not sure what you mean by this. The insurance does pay for emergency room visits.

Quote:
Originally Posted by superk View Post
Does this really happen with any frequency? I know that a hospital must see and "stabilize" any patient who comes in, but I haven't read anything that says they must actually treat them.
I think this varies state to state. Where I live, all patients must be treated. Nobody is turned away for any reason. I'm always surprised to hear that the uninsured are turned away at some hospitals in the country. It's not like that where I live.
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Old 01-20-2010, 01:04 PM
 
7,079 posts, read 33,727,881 times
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You have NO IDEA. When I was a house officer (intern/resident) HORDES of people walked in because they had no primary care doctor. What did they come in with? Let's see:

'I've had this rash for four months and I thought that if I came at 3:30 AM I wouldn't have to wait too long to see a doctor.'

'My visa expires tomorrow and I have had this pain in my back for a few weeks.'

'I ran out of the medication from the last time I was in the emergency room.'

And these are just the memorable ones.
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Old 01-20-2010, 01:09 PM
 
8,936 posts, read 15,851,020 times
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without a doubt

urgent care places take some of that brunt where you can find them - but they still charge more than a PCP

many people either do not have a PCP or cannot get a timely appointment with one - i know with mine the best I can hope for is to describe things over the phone and have it relayed to the nurse/dr and then get a call back with a prescription
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Old 01-20-2010, 01:34 PM
 
Location: EPWV
9,861 posts, read 5,777,142 times
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Maybe it depends on the location and/or the state but I know of some Urgent Care centers [not Emerg Rooms in hospitals] that take in patients on a recurring basis and the prices areobviously reasonable as many use it for that purpose. Now the only time one would go to the ER, is when this facility is closed.
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Old 01-20-2010, 01:41 PM
 
43,012 posts, read 88,958,716 times
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Originally Posted by Finger Laker View Post
urgent care places take some of that brunt where you can find them - but they still charge more than a PCP
I hear you. It's a price you sometimes have to pay. My insurnace copays are set up to deter use of the ER. $30 for PCP, $50 for urgent care, $150 for the ER. Sometimes you just have to pay that $150 copay for the ER when there's no alternative. I really wish things were different where I live. My area is supposed to have excellent healthcare, but there's nowhere to go for non-emergency illnesses that are too urgent to wait a month.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finger Laker View Post
many people either do not have a PCP or cannot get a timely appointment with one - i know with mine the best I can hope for is to describe things over the phone and have it relayed to the nurse/dr and then get a call back with a prescription
I go this route most of the time---getting a prescription over the phone. My doctor actually sends patients to the ER when he can't treat it over the phone. Some things just need to be seen because they can't be diagnosed over the phone because the symptoms match something that could be minor or something extremely serious.
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Old 01-20-2010, 01:43 PM
 
Location: Texas
14,078 posts, read 17,030,960 times
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Poor people and those with no insurance have little choice but to go the charity hospital ER's. It's either that or stay home and suffer and/or die. Of course, most of the time other patients with insurance and government picks up their tab indirectly, so it's a back-door government-funded health care.

Plus, around here, there a lots of people who simply cannot find a family or pediatric practioner who will take new patients, including members of my own family. We have hordes of doctors, literally hundreds of them, but they're all specialist's riding the gravy train of our current health care system and what few GP's we have are overwhelmed with patients.

When one of my son's kids has a problem, there's no place else they can go but to urgent care or an ER because they can't find a doctor. My other kids have a family doctor, but the wait time for an appointment is 3 or 4 weeks. When your kids are sick with the flu or passing blood, what would you do? Wait? No, you'd do what they do; go the the ER or urgent care. Insurance picks up most of the tab for them, but it's still an extravagently expensive way to deliver health care and somebody is making a bundle off it. Care to guess who?

But, Rush says we have the best health care system in the world so it must be ok.
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Old 01-20-2010, 01:55 PM
 
Location: Virgin Islands
594 posts, read 1,197,895 times
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I work in an ER, the things I see are crazy. The most vunerable population (the ones that use the ER the most, without insurance) are people aged 35-65, who are out of work, or work low wage jobs, that dont offer insurance. I routinely see people with long term Rectal Bleeding, chronic chest pain, ect. These people come to the ER when the situation gets bad.
I dont blame them. Medicaid dosent cover Adults without dependent children, Medicare takes 2 years to get AFTER you have been declared disabled.
Another thing that IRKS me to no end: In one room you will have a single mom, with her very sick child, she works and makes 10 bucks an hour, so her kid dosent qualify for Medicaid. In the next room you will have a ILLEGAL ALIEN, with Medicaid, no social security number and her children are being taken care of......The situation is rediculous.
There is alot of abuse among people who have Medicaid, they dont have to pay 150.00 copays, so they use the ER as much as they want, because unlike the rest of us they are not penalized for it.
Homeless people abuse the ER for sodas and sandwhiches. Young adults rack up bills in the ER because they refuse to take employer coverage....especially young men, who seem to think they are invisible.
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Old 01-20-2010, 02:01 PM
 
2,838 posts, read 8,843,441 times
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I've been to the ER twice in the past year. Once was because my daughter had an allergic reaction (tingling tongue and lips), and once because I fell and thought I'd broken my foot (it was just sprained). Both were on weekdays. The allergy thing happened in the evening, so doctor's offices were closed. The foot thing was at 10:00 in the morning or so. (I called my doctor, and he suggested just going to the ER, because he'd have to send me to a lab for an xray and to the hospital for a cast anyway.)

While there, I overheard many people talking about their issues. They were there for "a stomachache," possible bedbug bites, poison ivy on the hands, and a small child throwing up. Seriously, I was trying to make myself as small as possible and totally overusing the hand sanitizer that was on the wall (these visits were in the middle of H1N1 hype). I would not have been there if I didn't feel that I had to be. Bringing your kid because he's throwing up? I hope the poor little boy didn't catch something else even more nasty while he was there!!

So the answer to your question is YES, people use the ER as a doctor's office!!
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Old 01-20-2010, 03:40 PM
 
Location: In the real world!
2,178 posts, read 8,221,161 times
Reputation: 2772
I know someone who regularly uses the ER for things a doctors visit could easily handle but he don't have insurance (says he can't afford it.. doctors visits or insurance). He has never paid a ER bill... You have to pay at the doctors..

And same as the other poster said, I had a child with a broken bone, called the doctor during office hours and was told to take him to the ER....
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