Wise Use of the Emergency Room
How and When to Use the Emergency Room
Traditionally, when we get sick or our child comes home from school with an earache, our natural instinct is to find the quickest solution. We immediately think it’s time to pack up snacks, books and pile in the car and head to the emergency room – only to wait for hours to be taken back to triage, and then wait a few more hours to be seen and treated.
As health insurance costs continue to rise, it’s important to educate employees on how to be savvy healthcare consumers. An employee visit to the ER can cost an employer on average $1,000 per visit, which is almost ten times the cost of a primary care physician (PCP) visit. Simultaneously, employees are susceptible to large copay and/or out-of-pocket expenses if utilizing a consumer-driven plan.
There are a multitude of tools employers can utilize when working to keep ER costs down, such as telemedicine, urgent care facilities, minute clinics and establishing PCP relationships. These tools come in handy for employees working to keep out-of-pocket expenses minimal while avoiding a four hour wait in the hospital – after all, aren’t your employees busy enough? The next time your employees consider a trip to the ER, ensure they’re equipped with these tips for making the best use of time and money.
An “emergency” is life-threatening and requires immediate care. Call 911. Be sure to bring along identification, insurance cards, medication and health history information.
Examples of an Emergency:
- Not breathing/having difficulty breathing
- Choking – unable to dislodge item
- Heart attack or stroke
- Broken bones
- Severe bleeding or burns
Situations for Routine/Self-care at Home:
- Minor cuts and sprains
- Fever of 102° F or below
- Sore throat
- Upper respiratory infection
- Common neck and back pain
Home Emergency Kits:
- Assorted bandages
- Sterile gauze pads and tape
- Moist towelettes
- List of emergency numbers
- Flashlight and batteries
- Nasal bulb syringe
- Elastic wrap
- Pain and fever medications (ibuprofen/acetaminophen)
- Antibacterial ointments
- Antihistamines (avoid if pregnant)
- Anti-itch products
- Anti-diarrheal products
Be Prepared for Emergencies:
- Learn CPR and first aid
- Keep first aid book or card handy
- Have emergency numbers posted
- Know the location of the closest emergency facilities
- Understand your insurance policy
- Have medical history available
- Carry ID and insurance cards at all times
Educate your employees on the various scenarios and resources out there, so they can make the best decision for their family, while remaining healthcare conscious.
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