Lubbock ER's Backed Up with Non-Emergency Patients - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/27/04

Lubbock ER's Backed Up with Non-Emergency Patients

Lubbock ER's are seeing a surge in patients lately. That's because ER doctors at UMC say many patients who go don't really need emergency care. And that has their waiting rooms overflowing with patients.

Patients and paperwork. Local ER's stay bombarded with patients and getting treatment can take hours. "Sometimes you can wait 4, 5, 6 hours just to be seen," says University Medical Center Division Director, Greg Bruce. He says part of the problem is many patients who visit the ER don't really need to go.

"If you come into the ER for a minor emergency or for a condition that could've been taken care of in your physician's office you could wait a considerable amount of time because sicker folks are coming in and they are going to be seen first," says Bruce.

Patients are constantly sorted and seen depending on the severity of their conditions. "The sicker you are the quicker you get seen," says Bruce.

Bruce says loss of Medicaid, CHIP and private insurance may contribute to more and more patients pouring in to ER's with minor emergencies. "Many other people who may not have what you and I would consider true life-threatening or limb threatening emergency come here because they don't feel good and there's no one else to take care of them," says ER doctor, Fred Hagedorn.

Each year,UMC's ER treats about 60,000 patients. That's about 165 a day. Dr. Hagedorn, says they've expanded their ER not to take care of an increasing number of patients with non emergencies. "We went from 28 rooms to now 48 rooms. We added 12 more rooms to take care of that segment of the population."

UMC has what's called a fast track area. A portion of the ER that treats only patients with non life threatening emergencies. "On this side we see them regardless of how severe it is in an attempt to get them back at home, back to work, back to being productive," says Hagedorn.

If you have an emergency by all means we don't want to discourage anyone from going to the ER.

Here are some circumstances doctors recommend going to the ER:

  • Head injuries
  • Heat stroke
  • Gaping wounds that do not stop bleeding
  • Nail punctures
  • Severe allergic reactions to bug bites or stings.
  • Bone fractures or bruises that are extremely painful or continue to expand.

Of course the list goes on, but if you don't need emergency care doctors recommend visiting your primary care physician or an urgent care clinic.

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