ERs across the province are regularly pushed to their limits, and beyond, over the past number of years, as anyone who’s made a visit on a weekend knows.
While in Campbell River we haven’t heard the type of horror stories about so-called hallway medicine that have come out of Surrey in recent days, the local ER has regularly been stretched to its limit.
There is a crucial piece of the puzzle, however, when it comes to relieving pressure on emergency departments — our own behaviour.
Regardless of square footage, residents have a responsibility to use the ER wisely and understand that it is not run on a first-come, first-served basis.
Triage procedures place those in genuinely life-threatening circumstances — patients experiencing chest pains, having difficulty breathing or suffering severe bleeding — at the front of the line.
If your complaint doesn’t fall into one of those categories, however uncomfortable you may be, prepare to wait.
But even that wait can be shortened up when more people understand that a visit to the ER is not always necessary.
Start with a call to your family doctor, who knows your history and may be able to get you in the same day. If your doctor is not available, visit a walk-in clinic or call 811, HealthLink BC to speak with a representative who will help you find health information and services, or connect you with the proper person to offer advice.
For an urgent medication refill, speak with your pharmacist, who may be able to provide an emergency refill of your prescription. Finally, for critical or life-threatening conditions call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Hospital ERs are not the place to go for common illnesses or minor injuries.
The more people who understand and abide by these procedures, the better off we’ll all be.