Emerg department myths & facts
August 26th, 2021
More than 15 million people visit a hospital emergency department in Canada every year. But did they need to go in the first place?
Victoria-based emergency physician, Dr. Fred Voon has written Your Inside Guide to the Emergency Department: And How to Prevent Having to Go! (FriesenPress $36.95 h.c.), busting some common myths and providing practical tips to stay out of the ED.
Guiding readers through what really happens in EDs, he answers questions like: why you have to wait so long and why did other people get seen before you? More importantly, who gets seen faster and how can you get treated sooner? And, who are all these ED people anyway?
The following are some of Dr. Voon’s myths & facts of emergency departments.
MYTH: Don’t take medications before you see a doctor because it might “mask” the fever or pain
FACT: Whether you have a low-grade fever or a more pronounced temperature is less important than the context you have the fever in. We will make decisions more on your health status and risks and what we are worried about, not so much on the exact number. So go ahead and take those over-the-counter medications. Otherwise, we will be using the same ones as first-line agents before advancing to stronger ones.
FACT: Doctors used to avoid giving pain relief to patients with abdominal pain for fear that it would “mask” appendicitis or other cases that would need surgery. We’ve changed our minds because the examination and findings were shown by research studies to actually be MORE accurate after some pain control was given. It might be time to change your mind, too.
MYTH: 811 sends everyone to the emerg.
FACT: A new program allows 811 nurses to refer callers they felt should “seek care within 24 hours” to a secondary assessment by a physician virtually.
“Virtual physicians advised nearly 75% of patients away from in-person emergency or clinic visits. HEiDi virtual physicians provide an effective complement to a provincial health telephone system.”