In a previous posting, I noted problems and causes of the high cost of health insurance. One reason being that people too frequently use the ER as their primary source of care whenever they get sick. Recently, through more of my own experiences, I've discovered a new problem with the emergency room issue.
Recently my son got fairly sick - constant vomiting and so on - so my wife and I decided to take him to urgent care. They told us even before being triaged that because he was a baby, we'd have to take him to the ER instead, as they were ill-equiped to handle a patient so young. I don't really think the ER was wholly necessary in this case, especially given the final problem/solution, but it was serious enough that we obliged. The first visit wasn't very helpful, and we ended up going again as the situation did not get any better after they told us 'there was nothing wrong with him'. This resulted in some nice, plump medical bills (left over that the insurance wouldn't cover). Then, over a month later, we ran into a new illness and we called our normal doctor to get a check up visit for him. The pediatrician's office told us that they appointment availability for a few days in a row, including for sick visits (huh?) and instead we should take him to th ER... for pink eye! Why would we go to a hospital for pink eye!?!
There is no reason to take him for this. Not to mention that every time we've gone to the ER so far with him, the staff has essentially scolded us for bringing him in when it wasn't necessary or severe enough to do so. SOOOO-RY!
I know the ER is a last-resort and should only be used when necessary, but when other nurses and physicians tell us to go because they can't take our son, then what the hell else are we supposed to do? And given that so many people supposedly go to the ER for their general care, this makes me wonder how many are referred there like we have been.
Needless to say, we kept trying for pediatric appointment for the pink eye and eventually got a Saturday appointment, taking up one of the only two spots available. Next time, maybe we'll save the insurance company some dough and just let our son be sick for a while. Sheesh.