Have you ever read a comment someone posted on your blog, and then they double-dipped and turned it into a post on their blog, so you decide to triple-dip and post their comment from their blog from your blog back onto your blog?
I didn’t think so.
I was intending to be snarky with my “Get Out of My ER” title, as I am far from the jaded, paternalistic assholery that would say such a thing. I got lots of great responses, everything from the short and sweet to the longer explanation to the scolding for ignoring a possible influenza to the “don’t do that you’ll just make trouble for yourself.”
I think Nick’s wins, or is at least the closest to what I try to do. I believe as ER professionals we’re not only supposed to evaluate, treat and determine dispo, but we’re also supposed to educate–all physicians are. We know the most about the human body out of the entire society, and it’s our job to not only provide education about the body, but also about normal and healthy.
This mostly happens seeing pediatric patients, and often it seems that the pediatric ER visits are frustrating for all parties involved: docs, nurses, staff, parents, and the kids themselves. Kids are, in general, healthy and resilient. And most pediatric ER visits that I’ve seen are in general, healthy.
These kids are fine. They have a cold, or a GI bug. They are eating well, peeing and pooping fine, they’re active and well-hydrated. Their vitals are all stable. Sometimes they have a fever.
These are kids that will, in general, do fine at home, or at the very most, need a sick child appointment at the pediatrician. It’s not an emergency. It’s not life-threatening.
Have things changed? Has it always been like this? If not, where’s this coming from?
The medicalization of childhood, where everyone is freaked out their kid has some killer nasty terrible disease?
Or how about the breakup of the extended family unit? When you don’t have grandparents around or aunts or uncles or friends with older children who can re-assure a parent, maybe they’ll take them to the ER more often?
Or lack of access to pediatricians? And maybe lack of health insurance? More and more patients tell me that the advice nurse in the pediatrician’s office told the parent with the kid with a cold and a 101 fever to go to the ER, since the pediatrician was booked solid for the day.
The “I want it now” culture? An inability to just let a child be sick for a week or 10 days? An inability to be patient?
Cultural norms? I read somewhere that seeing a doctor in Latin and South America generally means spending hours in a waiting room, so it’s perfectly normal to just go to the closest, most accessible doctor instead of calling one’s pediatrician to schedule an appointment.
Lack of education about what are normal things for a sick kid to do, and what are abnormal ones? Maybe it’s just that the population has grown, and we haven’t kept up to provide the resources to educate them all?
Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be more efficient to have the triage nurse take a kid’s vitals, and watch the kid in the waiting room, and if he or she looks fine, suggest heading to the local clinic–the wait is probably shorter, anyway.
(All of this is spoken from a non-parent of course.)