Know when it’s time to go straight to the emergency room | TheUnion.com
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Know when it’s time to go straight to the emergency room

Dr. Brian Evans, MD ABEM, SNMH Medical Director

Question

How do I know whether I should come to the ER, or wait until I see my primary physician? – Judy, Grass Valley

Answer



This is a common question, and tough to answer because every situation is different.

Sometimes a symptom that does not seem like a big deal can in fact be a serious medical problem. For example, a patient might have mild tightness in the chest that seems like nothing, when in fact it could be a heart attack. Before even telling me about their symptoms, patients often start by saying, “I feel so silly to bother you with this, but …”




Believe me, we do not think patients are silly for coming in to be checked out. It is better to be cautious. Often, calling your physician will help clarify what to do. But if you feel you may have a serious problem, do not hesitate to come to the ER or call 911.

Question

What’s the difference between an emergency department and an urgent care? – Nancy, Lake Wildwood

Answer

The differences are many, but boil down to capacity, capability, and availability.

The emergency department at Sierra Nevada Memorial is equipped and staffed to handle a huge range of medical and traumatic problems. We have highly skilled nurses and technicians. All patients are seen by a physician certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine, which means that they have the experience and training to provide the best care possible.

We also have a panel of specialty physicians available to provide emergency consultations. Finally, the emergency department literally never closes to the public, and we will see any patient, regardless of their financial situation, at any time.

Question

When I came to the ER, I had a bad cut on my hand and I had to wait in the waiting room. Another patient who seemed completely fine arrived after I did, but was taken right in. Why? – Ashley, Penn Valley

Answer

When patients present to triage, they may not be seen or taken to an examination room in the order of arrival. This is because there may be another patient who needs to be seen first, and evaluated for a life-threatening problem. Sometimes this situation is not obvious to everyone in the waiting room, and it can seem unfair. Fortunately, we have very short average wait times, much better than emergency departments I have previously worked in. I have also found that patients in this community are extremely understanding and appreciative, even when they have to wait.

Question

Why did I receive a bill from the hospital and another from the doctor? – Ernie, Alta Sierra

Answer

Patients can expect to receive a bill from Sierra Nevada Memorial, which covers the facility, supplies and employees of the hospital. Emergency physicians are not salaried employees of the hospital, and are only paid by patients or their insurance company for care provided. Therefore, patients can expect a bill from the emergency physician as well.

Question

I used to live near a large university medical center. Can I get high quality care in a small community emergency department? – Jennifer, Nevada City

Answer

I am very pleased to report that you can! I am astonished by the high level of professionalism, skill and compassion demonstrated in our emergency department. Our physicians have studied and trained at the best medical schools and residency programs from around the country, and they have chosen to practice here because of our standard of excellence, and the wonderful community. It is clear that patients agree, ranking Sierra Nevada Memorial #1 for emergency physician care in the CHW system (over 40 hospitals). There are some medical and surgical specialties that we do not provide locally, and this sometimes requires a transfer to another hospital.

To submit your question log onto http://www.snmh.org and click on “submit a question to Katherine Medeiros,” CEO, or mail to SNMH, P.O. Box 1029, Grass Valley, CA 95945, Attn. Ask the CEO.


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