Eight Southern California hospitals have joined a Nashville-based company system that was launched in 2006 called InQuickER, which allows patients to call in to the Emergency Room ahead of time, make an appointment, pay an extra $14.99 - $24.99 in order to be seen quicker. If they are not seen within 15 minutes of arrival in the ER they get their money back. At first glance, this might sound like a great idea. Let me tell you why it is an insane idea.
The definition of emergency -- an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action -- is obviously lost in this discussion. If you are well enough to call ahead, make an appointment, then perhaps you are not really an emergency and you should go to your family doctor or a clinic, not the ER.
Emergency rooms are generally clogged with people who are not emergencies, a stubbed toe, a cold, an ach that the patient has had for several days, a baby with a slight fever where it never occurred to the parent to give the child some Tylenol... All of these people are treated by highly trained emergency personnel.
ER's are also clogged with drug seekers, Tenn-Care, Medicaid recipients who have no jobs and all the time in the world to visit a doctor's office, but think they will get seen quicker in an ER. Many also think they will be more likely to get the drugs they seek in an ER than with a physician that knows them. It's a crying shame.
The ER will cost you much more than a doctor visit, but you may be like too many patients and not plan on paying your bill no matter where you go. Another big problem for both ER and doctor offices, collecting pay for services rendered.
In my opinion if hospitals want to have an outpatient clinic for the non-emergency folks, fine. But I'm not sure this ER appointment system is the answer.
... 95% of appointments have been kept successfully. Patients must be 18 or older to make an appointment. Those with life-threatening symptoms such as chest pains are told to proceed directly to the emergency room.
The system is in use at 15 hospitals and urgent care centers in seven other states. Locally, eight hospitals — five of which are owned by Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. — have adopted the service in the last year. [snip]
Doctors at hospitals that take appointments say patient satisfaction is higher and that lowering the time spent in an ER reduces the risk of infections spreading in the waiting room.
"InQuickER users are not skipping the line in front of everyone else," said Chris Song, a company spokesman. "They're simply waiting somewhere other than the waiting room." (LATimes)
I've got a terrible cold but I'm not going to 'rush' to the ER for a shot that won't help a cold virus. I'm going to take some Tylenol, grab a box of tissues and some cough drops and wait for the bug to die!
The abuse in the ER is by people who don't need to be there in the first place.