Stub Your Toe? Don't Go to the ER

Admit it. You've gone to the emergency room when it really wasn't an emergency.  Strep throat.  My son falling out of my jogging stroller headfirst on the pavement.  And through a glass coffee table (maybe that one counts).

But emergency rooms today see people for head colds, scrapes and even mosquito bites, and they're sick of it, according to The Washington Post. And they're taking out an ad to stop it.

The ad was created by Britain's National Health Service and it shows well-dressed people waiting in line with balloon captions like "stomachache," "cough" and "unsure about illness" over their heads.

"Here in the United States, emergency room trips have steadily grown, from 67 million visits in 1996 to 119 million trips in 2008, and ER trips can be expensive," Sarah Kliff posts. "One study back in 1994 found that treating non-emergency conditions in an emergency department setting contributed $5 billion to $7 billion in excess costs over the course of a year."

So why should we care? People are doing it because they often overestimate the severity of their problem, Kliff notes.  A campaign to stop them by enticing them about reducing healthcare spending doesn't quite override  this reason.

“The truth is, many people don’t have a good way to judge whether a headache or fever is a true medical emergency,” Drs. Zachary Meisel and Jesse Pines write, Kliff notes. "Think about the coverage about Tim Russert’s sudden death from a heart attack right after receiving a clean bill of health from his cardiologist. Now say you’re the one feeling lightheaded: How do you know you’re not going to just drop dead?”

So maybe the ad isn't going to work.  But maybe it will get at least someone to think twice before hiking off to the ER for a toothache.















http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/02/ad-tries-to-steer-patients-away-from-the-emergency-room/


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