Accidents and sudden illness happen. When they happen to your patients, where do you want them to go for care?
For many patients, the emergency room might seem like the best option, so it’s important for you as their trusted provider to educate them about safe, cost-effective alternatives for expensive, overcrowded emergency rooms. In addition, offering easy access to primary care will also go a long way in preventing avoidable emergency room visits.
The first step in educating your patients is letting them know what services you offer for patients with sudden medical concerns. Do you have early morning, late afternoon/evening or even limited weekend hours? Someone the patient can call or email for basic medical advice?
Next, provide any simple home care tips and all instructions in writing wherever possible. This can serve as a reference or memory jogger on expected side effects, reasons to call the doctor or office and contact information, or when seek more urgent assistance, so your patients don’t have to guess.
Finally, educate your patients about the use of retail clinics, telemedicine (if available) and urgent care as better alternatives than the ER for less serious injuries or illnesses when you’re not available to help such as:
- Back pain
- Simple fractures
- Ear infections
- Other respiratory infections
Always make sure your patients know that for life threatening emergencies; they should call 911 or seek care at an emergency room as appropriate.