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Top 3 Emergency Room Myths

 Emergency Rooms are not always the fastest or the cheapest option. Here are the top three ER myths.

Before I joined SelectHealth as a nurse care manager, I worked for three years in the emergency department.

While I loved being there, the patients didn’t always feel the same way. Patients were often frustrated because they misunderstood the real purpose of an Emergency Room (ER) and how it functions.

From a nurse’s perspective, here are the top 3 most common myths about ER care:

Myth #1 You will be treated quickly.

If you seek treatment in an ER for a non-life-threatening illness, you are actually likely to wait a long time—sometimes hours. I worked with a nurse who said that in California, wait times were regularly 24 hours! Even if you are lucky enough to be brought back to a room quickly, the average time for total treatment in the ER is over three hours. Compared to a 30-minute visit at your doctor’s office, it is easy to see which option saves you more time.

Myth #2 You will be treated in the order that you arrived.

The truth is simple: sicker patients are treated first. ER care is not provided on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Nurses and doctors are trained to identify patients who are the most ill, and those patients will be treated first, even if they came in hours after you.


Myth #3 You don’t have to pay anything.

Although it is true that payment is not expected at the time of service, the ER is the most expensive place to receive healthcare. The perceived luxury of not paying your bill at the time of your care will cost you much more later on. In fact, according to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, the average ER visit costs a patient more than the average month’s rent!

For more information on when you should choose the ER, and when to opt for the Instacare or your doctor, check out our ER versus Instacare post.

If you are a SelectHealth Member and you need help finding a doctor, or if you have questions about where to go for care, please call SelectHealth Member Services at 800-538-5038.

In the case of an emergency, please call the appropriate authorities. If you believe you have a life-threatening situation, call 9-1-1.

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Post Author

Kelly Paul