Not-So-Inappropriate Use of the ED

Posted by BestPractices on July 2 2013

Wen, Leana S. MD

Emergency Medicine News:
doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000432272.72029.68
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We emergency physicians, who trained in acute resuscitation and thrive in high-stress situations, tend to roll our eyes at our patients’ less-acute complaints. Back pain for three months? Headache for a week? Why are they here now?

I admit that I’ve grumbled about the so-called inappropriate use of the ED, especially in the wee hours of the morning.

Several months ago, though, something happened that made me really appreciate the importance of what we do. A 29-year-old woman, a fourth-year emergency medicine resident who was previously healthy, came back from her shift at a busy Boston ED feeling a bit under the weather. She was a little nauseated, but was able to eat the Chinese takeout dinner that her husband brought home. Right after dinner, she went to bed, but couldn’t sleep because she developed a gnawing abdominal pain. Then, she began throwing up, and she threw up at least 10 times over the next two hours.

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