Medical Monday Emergency Room Visits

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 2:27 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - 70% percent of medical reasons people visit the emergency department can be taken care of at a walk in clinic or by calling your primary care physician. Part of the reason behind this high percentage rate is confusion on when to go to the emergency department.

Should you go to the walk in clinic, call your primary care physician or head to the emergency room? When you’re not feeling well it can be difficult to decide. John Thyng, PA and medical director at Northern Light AR Gould Hospital has a tip to help you decide.

Thyng says, “Make a call to your primary providers office. you know if you’re feeling faint and light headed and having chest pains, you need to come and see us, call 911 and get to the emergency room. you can go to the walk in clinic and be evaluated, if you don’ feel your symptoms are very serious and they can evaluate you. If they find that your symptoms are serious enough to require the emergency room; they will send you to us. But those are usually the first calls to make to evaluate whether you need the emergency room or could you be seen in your primary providers office.”

A few symptoms that you should reach out to your primary care provider for are cold symptoms, medicine adjustments, minor sprain, ear pains, and sinus pain or congestion. Thyng says there are symptoms to watch for that make the emergency room your first stop.

Thyng says, “If you have a high fever, if you have severe abdominal pain, if you have severe bleeding, if you have a broken extremity, you’ve been in an accident or you’ve had trauma or a fall. an altered mental status or a weakness that would concern you for a stroke; these are the things that are emergencies.”

If you are in the emergency department and waiting to be seen it’s important to remember the patients higher on the severity scale are often the patients seen before you. Thyng says it’s not a first come first serve system, so he has this advice while you’re waiting.

Thyng adds, “If something changes in your condition and you’re feeling more ill, you need to let us know as soon as possible. And if you have questions, you know we are here to answer your questions about the long wait time, or about a process, if you’re not sure what’s happening. We are trying to keep people informed even in the waiting room, but if you have questions please speak up and let us know.”

Thyng also reminds people when you are being seen, and need a workup, testing takes time and may lead to a longer stay. If you have any questions about when to use the emergency department, contact your primary care physician.