Friday 24 August 2012

The ER

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?

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.


  1. Yes, but the next time I am brought in because my blood pressure is 75/44 with a heart rate of 35, or I am brought in after fainting that you not put those idiots next to me in the bay. There is nothing worse than having the stable idiot next to me complaining because my monitors keep going off...Well, forget that. There is nothing worse than having the drunk guy with no insurance who can't afford another bottle of Captain Morgan come in and scream every time my monitor goes off that he need dilaudadid (probably spelled wrong). I'm a cancer survivor. I put up with a lot of pain. I start mocking those patients. It's the only thing that gets me through the crap.

  2. I worked as an ER clerk for several years at a small hospital. We don't have an urgent care, so we get everything from migraines (very common) to a gun shot wound or being run over by a train and having your legs cut off. The last two are very uncommon, probably only once every 5 years. But yes we even had one person come in during the DAY to get stitches taken out. They do that for FREE at the clinic. But we can't turn anyone away. It all depends on the day.

  3. a couple of years ago i accompanied a good friend of mine to the ER with acute stomach pain. she was hardly able to sit, doubled over from the pain, and looked really miserable.

    it was a saturday night, around 8pm, when we arrived (we went by taxi as the taxi stand was way closer than the ambulance station, and she didn't want to abuse the emergency system since she was "just" in severe pain).

    on that same night, there was a larger event in our city, known for a high rate of idiots who drink themselves stupid.

    we sat in the ER waiting room for, i kid you not, almost 12 hours before anyone had time to take a look at her. in uncomfortable plastic chairs, she being doubled over from pain the whole time.

    all the while, drunk people were carted in, dealt with immediately, and stowed away in rooms with full IV liquid service.

    we were still waiting for someone to take a look at her when the first formerly drunken idiot waltzed out around 7:30am, proclaiming how awesome it was to drink himself unconsious, get the ER treatment, and how he was not even hungover.

    it took all the restraint i had not to send him right back to the ER with a broken nose.

    PS: congratulations on reaching half a million hits :)

  4. I guess this speaks to a need for some level of care between 'I can see you next week' and "I NEED HELP FUCKING NOW!!!" I'm aware in the states they have *some* of what they call 'urgent care centers' but they aren't what you'd call common or talked about by any accord. I'd be interested in your thoughts on this issue. In this particular case, I think a call to 'poison control' would have been enough though,eh?

  5. Where I lived in Texas, this became such a huge problem that they started having to add a surcharge for non-emergencies. The ER was filled with people with simple shit like colds, and it is awful that people with serious problems have to wait hours because some shitbucket has the sniffles.

  6. Well this explains why I waited 4 hours to be seen when I had a real emergency.

  7. I was admitted to the hospital in April because of meningitis, and got in crap because I didn't come to the hospital early enough... when they did the LP it was just below abnormal. I remember laying on the stretcher (at least I was brought back into the ER fast - meningitis isn't something that ppl mess with - and I was coming in from another hospital with this diagnosis - tends to lend some credence!) but waited another agonizing 6 hours before any pain meds or Tx... but all I cared about was that I was somewhere dark, somewhat quiet and was able to lie down.... I was also thankful that I wasn't in an area where idiots abound - I was in the "serious" area, however, this also meant that should ambulances & emergencies come in, I got pushed back - which happened 4 times... but hey, at least I knew they were taking my complaints seriously.

    Next time (if there ever IS a next time) I won't wait 72 hours before going to the hospital, and I won't go to my GP first or twice to try to get things figured out myself :P

  8. I thought it stood for Endoplasmic Reticulum.

  9. Sweet mother of all that is holy, YES. Last month I went back to the ER after being discharged the previous day. I was in acute adrenal crisis, not to mention excruciating fully body pain, among other things. I "sat" there for 6 hours, passing out several times, sobbing and screaming in pain the whole while. I could have legitimately died, which is terrifying when you are in the place that you are supposed to go when you're dying and, well… nothing is happening.


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