When is the emergency room right for your family? | Kids Out and About

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When is the emergency room right for your family?


Ask your doctor: When is the emergency room right for your family?

When someone in your family has a minor medical problem, you want someone who knows them best (their primary care physician) taking care of them.

Have you talked to your physician about how to access health care when your physician's office is generally closed?

Patients often go to emergency rooms for minor medical problems that could have been treated by a primary care physician.

According to a new report by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, people in the Rochester area made more than 163,000 trips to ERs for sore throats, ear aches and other minor medical issues in 2008.

In the Rochester area, about two out of five ER visits in which patients don’t stay overnight are potentially unnecessary, according to the report.

“If you or a family member has an emergency, go to the ER,” said Dr. Jamie Kerr, vice president and chief medical officer for utilization management, Excellus BCBS. “But, in general, if you or your child has sinus congestion, a sore throat or an ear ache, you should really talk with your doctor first. The problem will usually be addressed more quickly and by someone who knows you or your child best.”

You may be seen more quickly in your physician’s office instead of waiting for hours in the ER. Forty-five percent of potentially unnecessary ER visits are occurring between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., according to the report.

“You could also talk to your physician about alternatives for care for those times when your physician is unavailable,” Kerr said.

The report also showed that a significant amount of health care dollars could be saved in upstate New York if patients went to their physician’s office instead of the ER for minor medical problems.

A family's health insurance co-pay will also likely be lower in a physician’s office or urgent care center compared to a visit to the ER.

To view the report, go to excellusbcbs.com/factsheets.


For more tips on staying healthy, visit www.excellusbcbs.com.