Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Wonder

As you all know, I'm obsessed with medblogs. I love to see inside the minds of doctors and nurses and am fascinated by the human body and what it does and does not do. So, I've been reading a couple of blogs of people working in the emergency department. They love to point out the fact that the emergeny room is for emergencies (like that is such a hard concept). It got me to thinking about my two ER experiences. Well, two that I remember anyway. I think I may have been taken to the ER when I had chipmunk cheek when I was a toddler. So, what constitutes an emergency? The first time I went to the ER was for shallow breathing, probably brought on by my swollen glands and very sore throat which turned out to be mono no thanks to the ER doc. He sent me home with a prescription and did nothing for my breathing. I don't know what I wanted him to do for it, but I wasn't impressed at that time. I couldn't breathe well and I went home still not breathing well. At least I wasn't turning blue. Maybe that would have constituted a "real" emergency? Plus, I wasn't the one whose idea it was to go to the ER. My father, who was an EMT for some years, had my mother take me after a few days of my thoat getting worse and worse. What do you all think? Was that an emergency or am I one of those annoying people that should have used my PCP for that (which I ultimately had to do, who gave me a prescription that I turned out to be allergic to, HA!). So, my second ER visit was when I was bleeding while I was pregnant. I had been bleeding all day (not heavy, but definitely not spotting) so I finally went to the ER to see what they could do. I knew that they couldn't do much besides tell me whether or not I was miscarrying, but I went anyway. After two hours of sitting there (they were very busy with multiple traumas and many people in front of me, one of which was eating a complete bucket of fried chicken, I question her "emergency"), I finally decided that I could wait until Monday to find out. I knew they couldn't do anything if I was miscarrying so I thought I shouldn't waste their time. It seemed like an emergency to me, but was it? Would an ER doc find that to be an emergency? Sometimes, I just don't know what to count as "emergency" and what not to count. It's not like I've been in the ER 30 times in the last year, just twice in the last 20 years. What do you all think?


Hollie said...

I think the word "emergency" is relative. If you felt like your safety (or your child's safety) was in danger, then it was an emergency. Now, a papercut on your finger or a stubbed toe is obviously not an emergency. And most of the time if something bad happens during business hours, people should see their PCP.

I've been to the ER I think 3 times in my life. 1 - broke my arm when I was 6. 2 - got in a car wreck and rode ambulance to hospital to get checked and get stitches for a bad cut. 3 - had a BAD (I mean BAD) earache during this pregnancy while we were out of town and after business hours. I was miserable and felt like someone was stabbing me in my head. Luckily, I didn't have to wait because it was a slow night. I got some ear drops (which made it worse that night) and was sent home. I was hoping there was some sort of pain med they could give me, but they couldn't.

Brett and Audra said...

hum...The first-was it brought on suddenly or was it something that you were suffering with and it got worse when the dr. office was closed? Your Dad, I think did the right thing, even though the ER was no help. Better safe than sorry, the second is a definete emergency and I would have stayed. I wouldn't have been able to sleep if I went home! I remember when that happened to you. Scary, so glad your little man is doing good.
I haven't been to the ER in years, but from what I understand it has definetly gotten worse through the years with the number of people with no insurance, so no PCP, so people are coming in with colds and such things that they could take to their PCP if they had one. I may be wrong about that though

Earl Gearl said...

Ugh, Hollie, that sounds awful! I would say that that would be an emergency. Ear aches stink.

Audra, my throat swelling was a new symptom. I had been sick all weekend and part of the week before, but my throat had just been sore. I woke up with my tonsils and glands swollen and I was breathing shallow. It wasn't enough to wake me up during the night, but it was alarming in the, my throat had turned this odd shade of gray.

Also, I'd like to clarify that I (not the public and their tax dollars) paid for my the ER visit for shallow breathing. I haven't gotten a bill for the second one. I don't know if they will bill me for that since I didn't see a doctor. I did go to triage, though.