Q&A: Why More People Are Avoiding the ER

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People are once again feeling hesitant when it comes to seeking treatment at emergency rooms.

NBC Connecticut's Dan Corcoran spoke with Hartford Hospital's Chief of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Ken Robinson, about how the facility is once again seeing a hesitation with guests.

Officials say it's important not to delay care.

Dan: "We're two years into this pandemic now, and still people are a bit nervous about going to the emergency room. Why is that? And what are you seeing?"

Robinson: "We're seeing a disturbing trend recently where there seems to be a reluctance of people to seek care in a timely manner. They seem to be delaying coming to the emergency department, not sure why. Maybe people are worried about catching COVID at the hospital. That is definitely not the case. We've been doing this for two years now. And we know how to maintain the safest environment and not have people get sick while they're in the hospital. Perhaps it's they’re hearing that the wait times are long. There was a period about a month ago where ED volumes were very high, and we were very busy. That's not the case as much now and the wait times are certainly not as long as they were before. That may be two of the reasons that people aren't coming to the emergency department."

Dan: "Why could this become such a problem? Shouldn't emergency rooms that are empty actually be a good thing, or not?"

Robinson: "But we're worried that people are delaying care. And if they delay care, then it makes it even more difficult for them to fully recover. What we're seeing is a lot of clot-related illnesses, meaning blood clots in the legs, or blood clots in the lungs, or strokes or heart attacks that people may not have recognized the symptoms, or maybe they had some symptoms and they were hoping that it was going to go away. All of these clot-based illnesses can be life threatening. So, we're asking people and just reminding them that they really shouldn't delay care because they can really get more sick if they wait."

Dan: "Before we go, I just want to ask you about some confusion that may be out there about what requires an ER visit versus a trip to an urgent care. Any advice on that?"

Robinson: "I would say if you're really concerned, if you have any symptoms at all and you're worried, then come to the emergency department. Our job is to take care of you and make the diagnosis. I wouldn't worry about going to the emergency department. You know, if you think that you should have gone to an urgent care, we're never going to criticize you for that. We just want to make sure that you are okay and we'll take care of you."

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