Header Banner - Google Adsense

Emergency Room

Earlier this week I spent half of one intriguing night at the local emergency room. Fortunately, for once, I didn't have to worry about whether or not I was guilty of abusing the regional healthcare system. My youngest child had Chicken Pox and the doctor at the local health clinic feared it could be affecting her eyes. She had therefore sent us to the nearest regional hospital for a more thorough exam, something that could not wait until morning. As we sat waiting for our turn - at near midnight - I couldn't help observing the jungle of children waiting at that hour of the night. And I couldn't help speculating about how many really needed urgent care. I've spoken with doctors who work in our regional hospitals and I'm aware that many blame the public (i.e. you and I) for mis-using emergency services. In the opinion of more than one, we rush in at the slightest fever or cough rather than wait to see our GP or visit the Paediatrician during regular working hours. What they don't realise, however, is the situation we face at so many public health clinics. Not all doctor visits can be scheduled in advance. A small child or an elderly person with a fever that has gone on for three days, needs to see a doctor now - not next week! So, what are we to do? Is it our fault that local GP's are under such great pressure to see so many patients in so very little time? Is it our fault that often the only way to see a doctor in a moment of need is to either stand outside the GP's door at the end of the shift and beg for mercy or head for "Urgencias" at the risk of "abusing the system" or - as they say in Spanish - "collapsing the health services"? I hardly think so. However, I do advise everyone to have a reliable guide to first aid and basic illnesses on hand. This can help to evaluate situations involving fever and other common cold and flu symptoms in order to decide just how quickly someone needs to be seen. If you have access to a private insurance's medical helpline, this can also be a huge help in deciding what to do. Additionally, it is probably better to try to squeeze in to see your regular GP at the end of the shift than to head to the emergency room, if possible. Nevertheless, once in awhile the hospital emergency room might be the only option. If that's the case, try hard to put yourself in the shoes of all those doctors and nurses who are spending the night under the pressure trying to meet everyone's needs. It is a pity to think they actually need security guards to ensure their protection and - at times - keep order in the waiting room. They work hard, generally do an excellent job and deserve all the compassion and respect we can give them. On another note, I think the best lesson I learned the other evening came from the "unintegrated" (as they call them) gypsy women who fill the emergency room clad in pajamas, bathrobes and slippers. A surprising fashion statement, perhaps, but definitely a good way to take the edge off those stiff seats...
Blog published on 17 January 2008