Another reason to avoid the ER if you possibly can

Here’s one more reason to stay away from the emergency room: there might not find an experienced specialist when you get there:

Specialists such as neurosurgeons and orthopedists more often are saying no to a rising number of calls from emergency rooms and there doesn’t seem to be a simple way to get them to answer again, reports Josh Fischman. With ER visits up sharply over the past decade, the specialists say they are expected to do too much while on call and the risk of being sued has increased. At the same time, free-standing surgical clinics mean specialists can increasingly do without the operating rooms that hospitals have typically offered in exchange for going on call. Three-quarters of ERs reported a shortage of specialists, according to a 2006 survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Contrast the madness of trying to get off-hours care in the US with the common sense approach of the UK’s National Health Service. While on a visit to a business in Milton Keynes in the UK, I picked up a brief brochure in a business’s reception area. It laid out the services provided by the local “Walk-in Centre,” describing the minor ailments (such as coughs, colds, stomach ache, vomiting, rashes) and minor injuries (such as minor head injuries, sprains and strains to limbs, recent eye injury) that are handled there with no appointment.

The brochure also specifies services not provided, which include x-ray’s, Rx renewals, and immunizations.

The facility is open 7 am to 10 pm every day, including weekends and holidays. I’m sure it’s not perfect but it sounds a lot better than a trip to the ER in the US. Its existence must also help the ERs run smoother.

January 31, 2007

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