A small rant here. One of my many pet peeves (amazing how many of those you collect as you get older) is when people declare they have an emergency when they really do not. Once when I was working hospitality, I got called just as I had walked in the house in the wee hours and was advised there was it was an emergency call. When asked what it was (thougts of the hotel on fire crossed my mind) I was told that a coworker that I had given a ride home had left her purse in my car, wanted it back and the Manager On Duty told me to return it.

I was this close to utter a comment that would have me sent to have a nice chat with HR, but I held myself and just went back to the lady’s house, returned her purse and took myself out of the pool of helpful associates willing to assist other associates get home.

This has bothered me for years, and it was not till recently while driving around that I noticed these clinics all over the place here in TN.

If you check what they offer in manner of urgent care, the list is limited:

When you need more than a Band-Aid, but less than a call to 911.
Bites, Stings and Allergic Reactions
Cuts, Scrapes and Minor Lacerations
Eye Irritation and Injury
Respiratory Conditions
Muscular pain and injuries
Sprains and Strains
Broken Bones

Well shit, that is a damned good way to put it. So now I have my “own” definition of levels of priorities

Emergency, Urgency and Inconvenience.

I define Emergency any situation where you need life-saving devices and techniques. May it be going for the gun, calling 911 or breaking out the “Oh Shit!” Medical kit, we are talking about an event where lives are at risk of grievous injury or death.

Urgency is reflected on the list above. I have dealt on my own with everything there but broken bones (I don’t have what I consider real training with that) and it should be your responsibility to learn how to treat those injuries without having to pull the fire alarm, call 911 or bother somebody. And yes, you could help somebody with an urgency, but be mindful if you are legally protected in your state by a Good Samaritan Law, but even then, you can still be sued. Take that into account.

Inconvenience is pretty much anything else, especially if it is stupid shit you have done to yourself. You left your keys inside the locked car? Forgot to bring the charger of your smart phone? Broke a heel? Are late for work and need a babysitter? Inconveniences, not Urgencies or Emergencies and you should be even ashamed to bother a third-party requesting help.

I believe that pretty much covers it. Feel free to expound in the comments and give us your definitions.

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By Miguel.GFZ

Semi-retired like Vito Corleone before the heart attack. Consiglieri to J.Kb and AWA. I lived in a Gun Control Paradise: It sucked and got people killed. I do believe that Freedom scares the political elites.

9 thoughts on ““It is an emergency!” (No, it is not.)”
  1. in todays world many are eaten up by the “me first” disease… as I get older I learn to distance myself from LOTS of so called friends… these clinics are popping up because getting an appointment to see your doctor involves permission from the vatician and an act of congress… thank you obammy… YOU are on your own.. as soon as you involve “authority “ it will snowball and they will steamroll right over you

  2. The elevation of any inconvenience is a product of the entitled generation. What do you think will happen when you immediately provide for wants? When it comes to medical issues, people now believe, thanks to the medical industry propaganda, minor injuries/common illnesses may be symptoms of major medical problems and require professional care.

  3. You are preaching to the choir with me. I spend my life dealing with people who feel that whatever is going in with them is an emergency. It’s usually something that happened due to their own lack of planning or their poor decisions.

    Emergency has come to mean “anything which inconveniences me.”

  4. Emergency: Is it on fire? Will he die if not treated? Could someone die/be gravely injured if situation not dealt with now? If the answer is yes, then emergency.

    Urgency: Is she in serious pain? Do we need to have someone direct traffic around the wreck? Does the problem need to be dealt with very soon but won’t kill someone? If yes, then it is urgent.

    That’s how I sort things. I deal with teenagers a lot, so I tend to auto-downgrade certain things to “mildly urgent” and “urgent.” Or even “Tough. You should have thought of that before we got half-way to the ski slope.”

    1. Minor nit: I would call “do we need to have someone direct traffic around the wreck” an emergency, because if it weren’t done there is a risk of serious injury.
      Apart from that, I completely agree. I like the “ski slope” example.

    2. Part of the problem is that “Does the problem need to be dealt with very soon.” In my experience, the urgent care centers are good if a) it’s not that serious and b) your time has no value. I’ve had two broken bone/serious sprain incidents in the past year. For the first one I went to an urgent care center. I sat in the waiting room for three hours, then finally got to see a PA who told me I needed an x-ray and sent me to a different place for that. Five hours after that, I got my x-ray and returned to the urgent care center. I waited another two hours to be told that I had a hairline fracture, and got splinted up. Basically, I spent an entire day waiting and in pain.
      The second time, I realized I’d need another x-ray, so I went to the ED. Again, I sat in the ED for about three hours, but they had x-rays in house so once they saw me, they took me to Radiology and I had my scan (this time a CT). Again, I had a nondisplaced fracture, got splinted up,and went home.
      The difference was about 8 hours of waiting. That’s a misuse of the ED *only* if you believe that my time has no value. If, on the other hand, my time has value, then that 8 hours is important.
      That’s also an issue if you’re not sure how bad the issue is. A few years ago, my wife had acute pyelonephritis, though she just thought she had the flu. She didn’t want to go, but we took her to the ED, where she had a very, very low potassium. The ED doc told us that if she had waited another few hours, she would likely have had a cardiac arrest. That extra 8 hours associated with going to an urgent care center could have killed her. The key here is that we *didn’t know* it had reached that state. It didn’t seem that critical.
      I’ll go to an urgent care center only if I think that I won’t need ancillary testing. For instance, also last year I got stung by a wasp while gardening. Over the the next day or so I got cellulitis in my hand. There’s no need to go to an ED just to get a script for clindamycin, and there’s no need for ancillary testing.

  5. Two very useful triage tools I learned over the years.

    First tool I learned as a new commercial pilot. Ask yourself, is this life or death? If the answer is no, then you have a problem, but not an emergency. Work the problem.

    Second one I learned later in a business. I brought a major problem to the owner. He didn’t seem perturbed. When I expressed surprise at his calm response, he said, “Here’s my rule. Ask, can the problem be solved with money? If yes, can we afford the money? If yes, then we no longer have a problem, we simply have an expense. Move on, you’ve got other stuff to do.”

  6. I am going to have to disagree here.
    When is the last time you tried to see a doctor on short notice?
    “Hello, my son got stung by a bee or hornet, and I think he is having a pretty bad allergic reaction”
    “We have an opening in 143.5 days. Will that work?”
    This is a Urgent Care office. It takes a TREMENDOUS burden off of the Dr offices, and especially the ER. Should it be called something else? Yes, it should, but people do not want to be told they have to wait three hours in the ER, or two days to see their primary care physician for something that is very uncomfortable, or concerning, but definitely not life threatening.
    However, I do agree totally with the editorial sentiment. These days, everything is a CRISIS!!!! Action MUST be taken now, and that applies to our personal lives, not just Climate Change, or the Middle East.

  7. If you go to the ER and tell them your son is having a bad reaction to a bee sting, they’d damn well better IMMEDIATELY triage him, and if needed, get some antihistamines / epi ect. on board and get IV access QUICKLY.

    Anaphylaxis can be LIFE THREATENING and is a genuine emergency.

    (As is hypokalemia, mentioned above by hh465. Been there, done that with my wife. Caught it just before the arrhythmia stage..)

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