More ER Management Advice, This Time for Patients

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

We have been focusing a great deal on how health plans and hospitals are working together to keep non-urgent cases out of the ER. Educating patients on what constitutes an emergency figures prominently in this strategy. But this week in Movin Meat, a self-described “semi-accidental ER doc living in the Pacific Northwest” has more advice for seriously ill patients headed to the ER: If you have a complex illness, make sure you head to the hospital where your doctors are. This will seriously improve the quality of care you receive.

It’s not that we don’t want to see you. We would love to, but the fact is that we will not be able to care for you properly at our hospital, so don’t come here. It’s that simple. We are not bad doctors here, nor are we unused to to complex patients. Believe me, we have lots of cancer patients here, and our surgeons have lots of complications of their own, etc, etc, etc. But your doctors are not here. And your records are not here. I may not be able to get your records, and even if I do, it will take me hours and I will probably not get everything I wanted. Your care will be delayed and possibly harmed.

This is a common sense strategy that health plans should include in their patient education literature, especially in urban areas where patients might have a choice of ERs. It’s also another argument for interoperable EHRs so providers can easily access patient records.

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