Have you ever contemplated whether or not to go to the ER? Could you wait it out until the doctor’s office opens in the morning or do you have to go in just to be safe?

Well, over the past 2 weeks, I have contemplated these questions. Having gone through the ER experience several times, I would rather not go in if I didn’t have to.

We have been to the ER before for 7 hours. Most of that time was spent waiting. And if you have kids, it’s not an ideal place to bring them in the middle of the night.

Also, the cost of going to the ER is something to consider. For PPO’s, some of the ER doctors are Out-of-Network. And you have no idea until you get the bill.

So if your health issue isn’t something that obviously needs medical attention and the doctor’s office is already closed, what do you do?

Here are some resources to help you determine whether or not you should go to the ER.

Call the 24/7 nurse line.

Some health insurance carriers like Anthem Blue Cross offer a free 24/7 nurse line to their members, to call for questions about health issues. They can’t give you medical advice, but they can help you determine if your condition warrants a visit to the ER or what your next step should be.

Call the after hours on-call doctor.

Many doctor’s offices, especially ones with multiple doctors, have a doctor who is on-call during closing hours to offer medical advice. Usually, you can contact this on-call doctor by calling your doctor’s office and waiting until the end of the answering machine message.

Our pediatrician office offers this but at a cost of $20. I find this service helpful, especially for questions about kids. Some offices offer this service for free.

Check to see if your doctor’s office offers this.

If it’s really bad, just go in.

If you don’t have these resources available and you’re not getting better, by all means, go to the ER! It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially in circumstances where it’s difficult to breathe, you’re in a lot of pain, you can’t stop the bleeding, or something’s just not right. Trust your instincts and be safe!

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3 Comments on Before You Head to the ER

  1. If your insurance is employer-based, you may want to talk to your Benefits dept about situations when you go to an in-network ER and the ER doc happens to be out of network. Sometimes, they can advocate for you, since the selection of the doc in the ER isn’t your choice.

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