No one ever wants to be in a situation where they have to go to the emergency room, but it can be an unfortunate reality. Whether you’re suddenly experiencing symptoms of a sickness, you’re having unexplained symptoms, or you’re injured in a situation like a car accident, you may find yourself in an emergency room.
If you’re in the emergency room because someone else contributed to your injuries, they might be liable for your financial losses, including the cost of emergency room treatment, which is costly.
The following are things everyone should preemptively know about going to the emergency room.
When Is the ER the Right Decision?
Whenever you’re sick or hurt, you have to decide how serious your condition is and whether you need medical care. You also have to weigh how soon you need that care. You might need to call your doctor and schedule an appointment or go to an urgent care clinic. There are also situations where you should immediately go to an emergency department.
You need to carefully weigh the right treatment option whenever possible because receiving treatment in an emergency department can cost three times more than the same treatment in your care provider’s office.
Some of the many scenarios where you should go to the emergency department include a head injury with confusion or passing out, a spinal or neck injury, or severe chest pain or pressure. Trouble breathing, sudden weakness, or an unusual or suddenly bad headache can also be times you might need to get care in an emergency setting.
These certainly aren’t the only situations when you should go to the emergency room, but they’re examples.
Consider an urgent care clinic if you have a minor injury, like back pain or a minor cut or burn.
If you have a common illness like an earache, migraine, cold, or the flu, then that might be another situation where you should go to an urgent care clinic.
If you have any doubt about where to go, you should call a health care provider and ask.
What Happens When You Go to the Emrgency Department?
When you go to an emergency department, you don’t need an appointment, but you may have to wait for a long time, depending on how severe your situation is.
When you arrive, you speak to a triage nurse. The triage nurse will be trained in providing emergency care. The triage nurse checks your vitals, and if you have severe injuries or a serious situation, you might see a doctor right away. Otherwise, you may be asked to wait. While you wait, you might do lab work or X-rays.
As you receive emergency care, you may see several health care providers, including nurses and different doctors. You’ll wait for test results, and you may see someone who specializes in your symptoms or condition, in addition to the general emergency department doctors.
If the care team decides it’s best, you may be admitted to the hospital. You might also receive treatment directly in the emergency room. If you have a friend or family member with you, they’ll receive instructions for how you can take care of yourself, any prescriptions you need, and instructions for follow-up care.
How Much Does It Cost to Go to the Emergency Room?
While the costs can vary significantly, the average expense for a visit in the U.S. is $2,200. What you pay out of pocket depends on your insurance, the treatments and tests you undergo, and the severity of your condition.
Your total emergency room charges will include triage fees, facility fees, supplies, and professional fees.
When you’re registered as a patient, you’re charged a triage fee which can be as much as $1000. When you’re assigned an ER room, you’ll be charged a facility fee, which averages $1,118. The costs of the attending physician and professional fees are not part of the facility charge, and these are typically billed separately.
If you don’t have insurance, some hospitals have income-based programs, so you’ll get a reduced charge for an ER visit. To qualify, you have to contact the patient advocacy department at the hospital.
Certain states have much higher average rates for the ER than others. For example, the average cost of an emergency department visit in Florida is $3,100, and it’s $2,087 in New Jersey.
Some of the most common reasons people go to the ER include abdominal pain, respiratory infections, and chest pain. Superficial injuries, sprains and strains, and other injuries from external causes are also common reasons for visiting emergency departments.