Atlanta, Ga. (October 14, 2013) – Board-certified emergency physician Donald Van Baker, D.O., who was recently appointed medical director of Piedmont Newnan Hospital’s emergency department, is looking to reduce community members’ wait times when they come to Piedmont Newnan’s emergency room (ER).
The first step in doing this, says Dr. Baker, is to help the community know when to go to the ER and when to see a primary care physician or specialist. This will not only decrease wait times, but keep patient costs lower and maintain a high level of quality care by reserving resources for patients with emergency medical conditions.
“Over half of all emergency room visits are avoidable,” said Dr. Baker, who has over 16 years of experience in the emergency medicine and is a fellow of the American college of Emergency Physicians. “It’s just a matter of understanding what is a medical emergency and what isn’t. When patients come in to the emergency room for primary care concerns, it takes more time for emergent care patients to get the care they need.”
According to the New England Healthcare Institute (NEHI), 56 percent of ER visits are potentially avoidable. Last year, approximately 50,000 patients were seen in Piedmont Newnan Hospital’s ER. That means, about 28,000 visits could have been avoided.
“In this economy, we’re all looking for ways to save money and avoiding an unnecessary visit to the ER is definitely beneficial to the family budget,” said Dr. Baker, who is a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “For health issues like sprained ankles, sore throats or flu-like symptoms that may not need emergency care but require medical attention, it is important to utilize urgent care and walk-in clinics.”
Here are some other tips to protect your family from unnecessary ER visits.
1. Know when a trip to the ER is really necessary. Health issues that should be treated immediately include chest pain, stroke symptoms (numbness on one side of the body, face, arm or leg; trouble walking, speaking and seeing in one or both eyes), excessive, uncontrolled bleeding and difficulty breathing. Severe stomach pain that is accompanied by other symptoms such as coughing up or vomiting blood, dizziness or fainting and vision changes should all be treated immediately in the ER.
2. Seek treatment at urgent care or walk-in clinics when appropriate. Anything from sprained ankles to sore throats and ear infections, cuts and falls can be treated at an urgent care or walk-in clinic, which is often open later than family doctors’ offices. Familiarize yourself with the local urgent care clinics in your area before an accident or health event occurs. Seeking treatment at one of these facilities for non-emergency medical conditions can save families significant time and money.
3. Visit your family doctor on a regular basis. As healthcare becomes more affordable and accessible to millions of Americans who are currently uninsured, primary care physicians, when available, should be a patient’s first stop. Seeing a primary care physician regularly can save families hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the long run and can prevent you or a loved one from ending up in the ER unnecessarily. Regular visits with a family doctor also increase chances of early detection should a medical issue present itself.
4. Come prepared. If it is necessary to go to the ER, be sure to have your health information (i.e. current prescriptions, name of primary care doctor, etc.) and insurance information ready whenever possible.
For more information on emergency services at Piedmont Newnan, please visit piedmontnewnan.org.