ER stands for "Emergency Room". Yes, I understand you know this already. And I used to think that was common knowledge. The key word here is EMERGENCY. If you have acute pain or trouble breathing, if you're bleeding, if you can't move your arm, the ER is the place you should be. However, if you have the sniffles, a sore throat, or some vaginal discharge, go see your doctor. The ER is NOT the place for you! It is NOT a walk-in clinic to serve your every need and whim, and all you're accomplishing is making the person with a real problem wait for 4 hours to be seen. Unfortunately, too many people these days just don't get it.
On my last trauma call, "the box" went off around 11PM. This is the emergency medical response system that is connected to all the local hospitals, and it's what the ambulances and helicopters use to call in. Usually when it goes off it means I'll be getting another idiot, er, I mean another patient. I wearily ambled over to the box to listen in and see what I would be getting.
A gunshot victim? A stabbing? HA...no.
The ambulance driver came on the box, explaining that he was transporting a young man with a history of bipolar disorder. His vital signs were all perfectly normal, and he was acting perfectly normal. But earlier that evening when he was supposed to take half of his prescription pill, he had accidentally taken the whole pill, and he was coming in to get checked out.
Incredulous, I looked at the nurse taking the call. She looked right back at me with a straight face. "We get these all the time," she said.
REALLY? I wasn't sure who I should be more angry at - the patient for having the audacity to call an ambulance for something so ridiculously frivolous, or the ambulance team for actually agreeing to bring the moron in.
Listen up, people - believe it or not, ER does NOT stand for "Everything wRong", "Every Rash", or "Exceptionally Ridiculous"!
Well, maybe it does.