When a health crisis occurs, urgent care clinics and emergentcy rooms will treat you (or your child, loved one, etc…). They can also put a serious dent in your bank account. During the crisis, it will seem like there’s no other option, that you just have to suck it up and pay the piper. It is a crisis, after all, not some gradually developing condition that can wait for your primary care physician to be available.
So how do you know if it’s a crisis? Is it’s best to err on the side of caution, even if it means takiing a chunk out of your savings? Ask anyone who has had a suddenly sick child what they think.
Nevertheless, back in 2013, the New York Times reported that “more than half the problems patients bring to emergency rooms either do not or would not require hospital-based care if an alternative source were readily available.” additionally proposing that “care in an emergency department for a routine medical problem can result in unnecessary hospitalization, tests and procedures that may even complicate a patient’s medical problem.”
Reduce the Chance of Crisis
The first step to avoiding an unnecessary trip to the ER is to get in the habit of routine check-ups with your primary care physician. Not only will your doctor montitor your health, but he or she is your best ally when getting educated about your own health.
This doesn’t have to be contained to their office either- many doctors are incorporating communication tech into their practice to increase their availability to their patients, which leads me to the next step in avoiding an unneccesary trip to the ER:
Call Your Doctor First
Or skype them, or use whatever method the two of you have worked out. Your doctor can tell you if the symptoms you report to them merit a trip to the ER, or if it’s something that can wait until they can see you. Often, a crisis occurs at an incovenient time. What are your doctor’s after hours policies? When do they take calls, and do they make house calls? If you aren’t sure, find out.
Direct Primary Care
Does your doctor take calls after hours? Do they make house calls? If the answer is no, you might want to consider finding a new primary care physician. The direct primary care model is growing in popularity with doctors across the nation because it allows them to see less patients, which opens up their availability for taking unscheduled calls or making a house call when needed. You can find doctors in San Antonio and Austin that practice direct primary care right here in our doctor directory.