The ER: How To Tell If You Really Need To Go

    An image of an emergency care centerGoing to the emergency room has become a trend in the United States.  More and more people are heading to emergency rooms rather than urgent cares or general physician visits.

    Emergency room (ER) visits in 2003 rose to 114 million, up from 89.8 million in 1992, a 27 percent increase.  According to the CDC in 2003, about 13 percent of those 114 million emergency department visits were considered non-urgent.

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    The Realities of the ER

    ER’s are set up as a triage, meaning patients are prioritized from most ill to least ill.  Patients who have life threatening injuries or illnesses are treated first, while others who have minor injuries or illnesses have to wait.  According to the CDC, patients in 2001 on average waited 3 hours in the emergency department from arrival to discharge.  Some waited more than 24 hours.

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