Every ride to the Emergency department by EMS is not the same. There really is a difference between taking a speedy ride on a red light special than it is on the scenic route through the historic district. Not knowing the difference between urgency and emergency can cost you in time, pain, and money.
First, falling off a ten foot latter with a bump on your head might not be that alarming. But, what if you broke a rib? You look down and see a slight protruding under your shirt. However no skin is broken. Well, that might not be an emergency.
These days, many emergency rooms are short on doctors and beds.So after you do arrive to the emergency department, you might get stuck on a gurney pushed up next to a wall. A little girl who has a nail which had been driven through her hand might be more important. Or a gunshot victim with loud moans and groans will certainly go to the head of the operating room. Sad truth is when you get to the emergency room there may be others there who may need more attention. So you look at your watch and it’s nearly two hours later since you first arrived. You’re still waiting for a doctor.
Certainly, the wait time is bad enough, but what is worst is the pain. Having a protruding rib underneath your skin is not a pretty sight to behold. It’s ugly and it’s painful. However, you can’t take anything for the pain because that might complicate the x-rays. It also might interfere with other medications they may need to give you. So you will have to just bite the bullet and “man up”. Pain can be more magnified when you are waiting on a gurney next to a wall at the emergency department.
Finally, a nurse approaches you and she rolls you into one of the examination rooms. She ask you a few questions. She even begin drawing some blood. She sets up an IV. Next she tells you that a doctor will be with you as soon as possible. And then you wait some more.
Over two hours later, a doctor finally walks in to talk to you. They need to perform some x-rays. This doesn’t take too long. The doctor tells you that the rib will have to be reset. So, they begin prepping you for an operation. They tell you that everything will be alright.
The next thing you know, you’re in the twilight zone. You are flat on your back and you’re looking up at the bright lights on the ceiling as they roll you into one of the operating rooms. The procedure doesn’t take that long. And now you find yourself in the recovery room. Some cute nurse is telling you to wake up now. You don’t feel any pain because of the strong pain medication which they gave you. So your recovery goes well.
Finally, you are back home. Two weeks pass really quickly. Thank goodness you had great insurance coverage. The operation will be paid for in full. And for the first time you noticed that you are feeling hardly any pain until your wife walks into your room with a letter from EMS. You open it up and make a surprising discovery as you slowly read the words on a billing statement. You begin to groan again. You reach for your pain medication on the night table.
Why didn’t you know this, you tell yourself? Little did you know that you were charged 200.00 for that nice scenic ride to the ER that morning by EMS two weeks ago. But, no one told you! It’s not your fault right? Certainly this is a rip off. But, it might not be. Most insurance plans do not cover EMS’s charge for non-emergency transport. Suddenly, you begin feeling sharp pains—not in your side, but in your wallet. You reach for your pain pills as you recall the whole ugly experience.
First, it seemed that you waited forever before they got to you, then you suffered through a lot of pain because you couldn’t take pain pills until they saw you, and now you have learned an expensive lesson. There is a big difference between urgency and emergency, not only at the ER, but to EMS as well.