Three Myths That Cause ER Overcrowding


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Americans have glaring misconceptions about the emergency room. These misconceptions lead to ER crowding — and, ultimately, to inefficient or lackadaisical emergency care. A staggering number of Americans mistakenly believe the emergency room is convenient, or that hospitals and emergency rooms alone can treat semi-serious injuries, like sprains. These things simply aren’t true? What common myths are crowding U.S. emergency rooms and delaying care for the people who need it most?

Myth #1: The Emergency Room Is The Place To Go If Your Traditional Doctor is Closed

A general lack of knowledge is one of the largest contributors to emergency room overcrowding. Many Americans simply do not realize that there are viable alternatives to the emergency room when traditional doctors and physicians’ offices are closed. Immediate care or urgent care facilities hold nontraditional hours. Most are open nights, weekends, and at least some holidays. There are also select 24 hour urgent care centers in some areas.

Moreover, emergency room care is not faster. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average emergency room wait was 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes in 2009 — and that number is only getting larger. Immediate care centers, on the other hand, have patients in and out in an average of 60 minutes.

Myth #2: Only Hospitals Treat Sprains and Strains

One of the most damaging myths out there is that only hospitals are qualified to treat semi-serious conditions, like sprains. That is simply not true. Urgent care centers have experienced doctors and adequate equipment to treat lacerations, sprains, strains, concussions, and food poisoning.

Myth #3: If You Don’t Have Insurance, You Should Go To The Emergency Room

Although this one will hopefully cleared up within the year, a disturbing number of Americans show up at the emergency room if they do not have health insurance — believing that it is likely the best, and least inexpensive, option for them. Once again, that’s bogus. Urgent care or walk in clinics will work with you on payments — and they are, on average, considerably cheaper than the emergency room.

Emergency room overcrowding is vastly preventable — and, with some clarification of commonly believed myths, Americans everywhere are much more likely to get the specific care they need. Continue your research here:

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