10 Conditions the ER Can't Help You With


1
Prescription Refills
Call your doctor’s office for emergency refills — even if it’s the middle of the night. © steveblose/Thinkstock

Let's say you're out of town for a holiday weekend and you realize you forgot to pack your medications. What do you do? You call your doctor, that's what you do. Even if your doctor has the night off, there will be an associated doctor on call who will contact a pharmacy near you to help you get the medicine you need. And the same is true for when you need a refill at home. Believe it or not, some people have used emergency department resources to request prescription refills. And there's even one anecdote about a patient who used ambulance services to the ER to make the refill request [source: Wahlgren]. You know he's not the only one out there.

It isn't that the emergency medical team doesn't want to help; it's that emergency departments aren't staffed to handle your ongoing prescription refills. In some instances, such as if you're trying to refill certain medications (opiates and other controlled substances), health care workers may suspect you're trying to game the system to feed an addition. They will contact the doctor who originally prescribed the medication to you.

ERs are equipped and authorized to dispense medications, including controlled substances, in an emergency, but the amount will be limited to the course of the emergency itself.

Author's Note: 10 Conditions the ER Can't Help You With

I'll admit that I've visited the ER for one of these conditions: hives. Those maddeningly itchy bumps came along with wheezing, and I was trying to be cautious. With a prior history of hives and allergies, I felt the potential for things to go wrong, and quickly, was pretty good. But, apparently, it could have waited until the morning. It wasn't that they didn't screen me (they did), but they sent me home with instructions to take antihistamines, and to call my doctor in the morning. Embarrassing? A little. But at least I didn't call 911 for a prescription refill. Or earwax impaction (that came up during the discovery phase of research). Or a paper cut (they sting way more than they should).

Related Articles

More Great Links

Sources

  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Hives." 2015. (Feb. 20, 2015) https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/e---h/hives
  • American Association of Endodontists (AAE). "Knocked-out Teeth." 2014. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.aae.org/patients/symptoms/knocked-out-teeth.aspx
  • American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). "Emergency Manual." Emergency Care for You. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.emergencycareforyou.org/EmergencyManual/Default.aspx
  • American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). "Immunization of Adults and Children in the Emergency Department." January 2008. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.acep.org/Clinical---Practice-Management/Immunization-of-Adults-and-Children-in-the-Emergency-Department/
  • Blackwell, D.L. et al. "Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2012." National Center for Health Statistics. Vital and Health Statistics. Vol. 10, No. 260. 2014. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_260.pdf
  • Bruce, Giles. "LMH: About a Third of ER Visits Aren't Emergencies." Lawrence Journal-World. May 21, 2014. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2014/may/21/lmh-about-third-visits-its-emergency-department-do/
  • CDC. "Ambulatory Care Use and Physician Office Visits." National Center for Health Statistics. June 12, 2014. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/physician-visits.htm
  • CDC: National Center for Health Statistics. "Emergency Department Visits." Jan. 22, 2015. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/emergency-department.htm
  • CDC: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Division of Viral Diseases. "Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others." Feb. 24, 2014. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/
  • CDC: Vaccines and Immunizations. "Finding and Paying for Vaccines." March 6, 2014. (Feb. 20,2015) http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/find-pay-vaccines.html
  • FastMed Urgent Care. "Common Conditions." 2015. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.fastmed.com/health-resources/common-conditions
  • Grover, Casey A. "Quantifying Drug-Seeking Behaviors in the Emergency Department." Physician's Weekly. Aug. 9, 2012. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.physiciansweekly.com/drug-seeking-behaviors-emergency-department/
  • HealthOne Rose Medical Center. "When to Go to the ER for a Rash." (Feb. 20, 2015) http://rosemed.com/service/go-to-the-er-rash
  • Heller, Jacob. "Cuts and puncture wounds." NIH: MedlinePlus. Jan. 1, 2013. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000043.htm
  • Heller, Jacob L. "When to Use the Emergency Room — Adult." NIH: MedlinePlus. Aug. 16, 2012. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000593.htm
  • Hines, Elizabeth Quaal et al. "Glue Adhesives for Repairing Minor Skin Lacerations." Contemporary Pediatrics. Dec. 31, 2012. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://contemporarypediatrics.modernmedicine.com/contemporary-pediatrics/news/modernmedicine/modern-medicine-feature-articles/glue-adhesives-repairin?page=full
  • Kahn, Alice. "How to Ask for a Second Opinion: Interview with Jerome Groopman, MD." WebMD. May 15, 2000. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.webmd.com/health-insurance/how-to-ask-for-second-opinion
  • Kulkarni, Shafali. "More Americans Head to the ER for Dental Emergencies." Kaiser Health News. Feb. 28, 2012. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://kaiserhealthnews.org/news/more-americans-head-to-the-er-for-dental-emergencies/
  • Levy, Sandra. "CDC: Now Is the Time for Everyone to Get a Flu Shot." Healthline. Sept. 18, 2014. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.healthline.com/health-news/everyone-get-a-flu-shot-091814
  • McCarthy, Claire. "The Right Way to Treat an Ear Infection." Parents Magazine. December 2012. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.parents.com/baby/health/ear-infection/the-right-way-to-treat-an-ear-infection/
  • Missouri Baptist Medical Center. "Emergency Room FAQs." 2015. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.missouribaptist.org/Home/EmergencyRoom/EmergencyFAQs.aspx
  • NIH. "Viral Infections." MedlinePlus. July 24, 2014. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/viralinfections.html
  • Patient Advocate Foundation. "Second Opinions." 2012. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.patientadvocate.org/help.php/index.php?p=691
  • Pringle, Craig R. "Overview of Viral Infections." Merck Manuals. December 2014. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/infections/viral_infections/overview_of_viral_infections.html
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "What We're Learning: Reducing Inappropriate Emergency Department Use Requires Coordination with Primary Care." Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) Issue Brief: Emergency Department Overuse. September 2013. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/issue_briefs/2013/rwjf407773
  • Rupp, Timothy J. "Life-threatening Skin Rashes." WebMD: eMedicineHealth. Nov. 4, 2014. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.emedicinehealth.com/life-threatening_skin_rashes/article_em.htm
  • Saint Louis, Catherine. "E.R. Doctors Face Quandary on Painkillers." The New York Times. April 30, 2012. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/01/health/emergency-room-doctors-dental-patients-and-drugs.html
  • Steckelberg, James M. "What's the difference between a bacterial infection and a viral infection?" Mayo Clinic. Oct. 24, 2014. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infectious-diseases/expert-answers/infectious-disease/faq-20058098
  • Tanner, Lindsey. "More Americans Seeking Dental Treatment at the ER." USA Today. Feb. 27, 2012. (Feb.20, 2015) http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/story/health/story/2012-02-28/More-Americans-seeking-dental-treatment-at-the-ER/53274176/1
  • Todd, Knox H. et al. "Chronic or Recurrent Pain in the Emergency Department: National Telephone Survey of Patient Experience." Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. Vol. 11, No. 5. Pages 408-415. December 2010. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3027428/
  • U.S. Department of Justice: Drug Enforcement Administration. "Pharmacist's Manual - SECTION IX-XIV: Valid Prescription Requirements." (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubs/manuals/pharm2/pharm_content.htm
  • Wahlgren, Eric. "Emergency-room Docs Offer Inside Scoop: How to Get Treated Faster, Better." Nov. 20, 2009. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.dailyfinance.com/2009/11/29/emergency-room-docs-give-the-inside-scoop-how-to-get-treated-fa/
  • Washington Hospital Healthcare System. "Protect Yourself from the Flu." 2015. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.whhs.com/flu-shot/
  • Wen, Leana. "The 10 Types of ER Patients." Slate. March 18, 2014. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2014/03/ten_types_of_emergency_room_patients_how_to_improve_your_care_by_avoiding.html
  • Wen, Leana. "When a Prescription for Pain Pills Becomes a Gateway to Addiction." NPR. Feb. 15, 2014. (Feb. 20, 2015) http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/02/15/277027231/when-a-prescription-for-pain-pills-becomes-a-gateway-to-addiction

UP NEXT

Despite Common Myth, Ambulance Companies Can't Avoid Certain Neighborhoods

Despite Common Myth, Ambulance Companies Can't Avoid Certain Neighborhoods

HowStuffWorks looks at the evolution of ambulance services and why the idea that they don't pick up people in some neighborhoods is incorrect.


More to Explore