The ER is not a place anyone wishes to be. Learn how the ER works, common reasons people end up there and some of the bizarre procedures that have taken place.


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How Ambulances Work

When you call 911 in the U.S., you expect an ambulance to come roaring to your aid in a matter of minutes. But how are ambulances dispatched — and why do they cost so much?

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

Public Enemy may have rapped that 911 was a joke in 1990, but in the 21st century, ambulances have to take their servicing seriously.

Marijuana Use in Colorado Sending More Visitors to ER Than Residents

Why are residents of Colorado responding to their recreational marijuana access differently than out-of-towners?

Are those 'ER Wait Time' billboards accurate?

You've got chest pain you can't ignore, so you head off to the emergency room. On the way, you notice the hospital posts its ER wait time on a billboard. But is the posted time really how long you'll wait?

Do ER doctors work for the hospital or for themselves?

You really liked that ER doctor who stitched up your arm. That is until you got your bill. Turns out the doctor was out of your insurance network, even though the hospital's ER is in network. How does that happen?

What's the busiest ER in the United States?

We all know a trip to the emergency room is never quick, but sometimes the ER is so jam-packed that you think that you're in the country's busiest ER. So just where is America's busiest ER? Well, it depends on who you ask.

Can an emergency room refuse to treat you?

You just broke your arm, and you're flat broke. But you don't worry about getting medical treatment, because the doctors and nurses in the ER have to treat everyone who walks through the door. Or do they?

Why are visits to the emergency room so expensive?

Help! You just cut your hand while chopping vegetables. On the way to the hospital you cringe because you know that ER bill is going to be unbelievable. Why is that?

Do ER doctors have different insurance rules?

During a medical emergency, your only thought is getting to the ER as fast as possible. The last thing on your mind is figuring out what kind of insurance the doctor accepts. We can help.

Do people without primary care doctors go to the ER more?

You've got health insurance. Congratulations! But good luck finding a primary care doctor. There are a lot fewer of them these days, so you may end up using that shiny, new insurance card in an emergency room.

What constitutes a medical emergency?

We all know what to do in case of a medical emergency (get to the ER), but are you really qualified to recognize a true emergency when it happens?

What happens if you go to the ER and don't have insurance?

You have to go to the ER, but you don't have health insurance. You're not worried, though, because emergency rooms have to treat everyone who walks through the doors. But does that mean you get out of paying the costs you incur?

How do emergency rooms handle massive disasters?

When a winter storm, tornado or hurricane happens, people start flooding emergency rooms (ERs) at hospitals. So, if the hospital didn't know how to handle the influx, chaos would break out.

How do you know if you should go to the emergency room?

It can be hard to tell whether an injury, illness or other troubling symptom warrants a trip to the ER. While you should always err on the side of caution and go if you're unsure, these tips will make your decision easier.

What can you do if you were mistreated in the ER?

Working in the ER isn't easy, and emergency medical professionals deserve a ton of credit for doing excellent work in less-than-stellar circumstances. But inevitably, sometimes things go wrong. And when they do, what legal options do you have?

10 Reasons Not to Go to the ER

You cut yourself prepping dinner. It's after business hours. But should you really take that laceration to the emergency room? Maybe not.

How Emergency Medical Responders Work

Unsurprisingly, the practice of emergency medical response has its roots in bloody conflict as people began to realize the importance of treating injuries as soon as possible. How have those practices changed over the decades?

How the Pain Scale Works

Dubbed the "fifth vital sign," pain plays a huge role in our health and well-being – which is why doctors have been on a quest to quantify it for decades.

10 Tips to Get You Through a Trip to the ER

Accidents happen. Severe illness arrives unannounced. You have no other choice than to head to the emergency room for treatment. How can you make the process as smooth as possible?

10 Conditions the ER Can't Help You With

Hospital emergency departments are ready to handle life-threatening illness and injury. But some patients may not have a clear picture of what qualifies as life-threatening.

How Mobile Medicine Works

If you got injured after a tornado, wouldn't it be great if you could get treated on the spot, rather than going to an emergency room? You could if a mobile emergency unit was nearby. That's just one type of mobile health unit available.

How Paramedics Work

What do the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and a '70s TV show have in common? They all helped shape the field of paramedicine. Learn more about how these first-responders save lives every day.

How Therapeutic Hypothermia Works

Sudden cardiac death is a huge global killer. Even if you survive such an incident, your neurological outcome isn't so hot. A serious chill could change that.

How Triage Works

You probably know that in an emergency room, patients aren't seen on a "first-come, first-served" basis. There's a system called triage to sort the order so the sickest get priority. Does that mean you'll wait forever if you're not dying?

How ER Nurses Work

Emergency nurses have been around since way before the first emergency room. They not only save lives, but also keep everything running as smoothly as possible. So what does it take to be an ER nurse, and how is the field changing?