Where Do You Go In a Health Care Emergency?
It is the waiting that is the hardest.
When you are the parent of a college student who attends school 12 hours from home, the waiting can be nearly unbearable. It is difficult to wait to hear what the orthopedic surgeon says when your daughter goes in for her last follow up visit after surgery. It is difficult to wait to hear what the clinic doctor said when your daughter goes in because her throat is so sore she cannot swallow. And, it is difficult to wait for a call from the emergency room after your daughter accidentally ate a peanut, the one food that she is most allergic to.
No matter how much you trust your children as they grow up and move away, the waiting is always difficult. Did they follow the rehabilitation instructions prescribed after surgery? Will they correctly take the full prescription of antibiotics dispensed for the strep throat? Will the epinephrine shot and saline IV help rid the body of a dangerous allergic reaction? All of these questions involve waiting. Waiting for a phone call. Waiting for a text update. Waiting for a follow up report that could take a few days.
And while no parent can make time go faster and lessen the waiting process, parents can make sure that their children, especially is they are away at college, have the proper medical and insurance information available to them. Insurance cards, doctor’s numbers back home, and written information about allergies and other necessary information are all important family health care information that should be given to all children when they are old enough to move away from home. Some families, in fact, do not wait until a child moves away to college before these important papers are shared. By the time a teenager is driving, for instance, many parents realize the importance of making sure that their children have all of the necessary information that might be needed in case of a medical emergency.
And while some families are dealing with athletic injuries and allergic reactions, other families are dealing with pregnancy and STD testing kits and prevention. When children are old enough to decide to become sexually active, family health care can take on a whole new meaning. When college age students or children who are living on their own for the first time need to make medical decisions, one of the most important things is to understand where to go for care.
Walk In Health Clinics
In an attempt to avoid the expense of an emergency room and the scheduling complications of a primary care physician, many patients decide to use walk in health clinics as a major source of meeting any individual or family health care needs. With prices that are often posted on their website or at their location, walk in clinics are often the most affordable and predictable ways to get the health care answers that young people need. After hours urgent care settings can even provide quick answers and treatments in the middle of the night and on weekends. Some places like STD testing clinics serve a specific purpose and a specific group of clients with very affordable, and sometimes free, services.
Although the ER is not the most affordable choice for family health care, sometimes it is necessary. In the event of a life threatening allergic reaction, for instance, the ER is likely the best choice for immediate care. Calling ahead to alert the staff of the arriving emergency or even calling an ambulance is also an option in dire health situations. Emergency rooms are not, however, the solution for strep throat tests and other similar health care needs. In an ER, staff use the triage system to see patients in the order of most need. As a result, simple strep tests can take forever. Between the years 2003 and 2009, for instance, the average ER wait time in ERs went up 25%, from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes.
Primary Care Physicians
When you know ahead of time that you need an appointment, family care physicians are the obvious answer. These offices, however, are becoming increasingly busy as current data indicates that the U.S.will need about 52,000 more primary care physicians by 2025 to meet our healthcare needs.