LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Flu season is not far away, which means more doctor visits and trips to the emergency room for some East Texans. However, before you rush to the ER, you should know when a visit to the hospital is warranted, and when you can go to a clinic.
"What has changed in the ER is not the true emergencies, those have remained the same," said Urgent Doc President Dr. Michael Iversen. "What has changed more so is a lot more people are using the ER as a clinic."
Iversen, a former emergency room doctor, said he knows sometimes you have to go to the ER.
"You had a bad car wreck, you've got big, open wounds, you know, you're having a heart attack, you're having severe chest pain, a lot of these things people know intuitively when to go to the ER," Iversen said.
Dr. Paul Foster, who works in Woodland Height's Emergency Room, said it's tough to give people exact answers on when to go to the ER, and when you should just go to your doctor.
"If you have crushing, left-sided chest pain and you are sweating and you feel like your heart is beating out of your chest, then you should probably go to an emergency room," Foster said. "When you get down into you've been vomiting for three days, you can't get it to stop...you can't get ahold of you're regular doctor that's more of a judgment call."
He said if your problem is not life-threatening you may have to wait a few hours before you get care in the ER.
Iversen said a clinic could get you in faster.
"We've had as many as one hundred people come through in a single day here during flu season and still be able to get people out in 50 minutes or less," Iversen said.
Most clinics can take care of non life-threatening situations. The hard part is sometimes knowing if your situation is life threatening and calls for a visit to the emergency room.
Doctor Iversen said some people may go to the ER because they don't want to pay up front. However, you could, easily, end up with a bigger bill at the emergency room.