Although, no one likes to go to the emergency room, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) patients are at a much higher risk of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and readmissions. The Archives of Internal Medicine Journal finds that the number of people who die because of infections caused by hospitals in the U.S. is more than the number of people who die from AIDS, firearm shootings, and auto accidents. Those who frequently visit the emergency room are at increased risk of contracting "superbugs" which are difficult to treat and, in some cases, trigger infections that could ultimately cause the body’s organs to shut down. In order to protect themselves, those with CKD ought to know the following things that the emergency rooms will not tell you.
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Patience is pointless in the busy and overcrowded emergency room. Alex Rosenau, President of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said that the urgency of a patient’s condition is determined when he or she first walks into the ER and is seen by a nurse in a process known as triage (the sickest and most seriously injured patients get in front of a doctor first). However, because sudden changes in a person’s condition can go unnoticed amid the commotion of a crowded emergency room it is important for CKD patients to speak up if they begin to feel much worse or if they think doctors or nurses are misunderstanding their symptoms.
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Shorter wait times are not always better. More hospitals are advertising their wait times in an effort to set themselves apart from competitors. Also, lowering wait times could increase hospitals' profit because of a pay-for-performance system created by the Affordable Care Act. Hence, Medicare payments to hospitals are partly based upon patient satisfaction. However, some providers are concerned that this recent focus on the clock could end up hurting patients. “You can move people through quicker, but if you are taking short cuts, there is a cost,” says Drew Fuller, an emergency medicine physician. Those with CKD should make sure that all of their issues are addressed when going into the emergency room to avoid later readmissions.
The riskiest procedure has nothing to do with a needle or scalpel. An estimated 80% of the serious medical errors are due to miscommunications between medical providers handing off or transferring patients, according to the Joint Commission, a nonprofit organization which accredits health care organizations in the U.S. If doctors don’t communicate well when they’re changing shifts, insiders say, the most important information about the patient can get lost amid the list of figures and status updates in the patient’s chart; making it difficult for the doctor taking on the patient to know what to prioritize. If you are being "handed-off" to another medical professional, then be sure to reiterate the reason for your emergency room visit if you can.
While health-care workers agree that hand washing can help reduce a patient’s risk of infection, many hospitals are battling low compliance rates. A 2009 analysis of 20 hospital-based studies on hand hygiene by the World Health Organization’s World Alliance for Patient Safety found that hand hygiene often improved when hospitals introduced new guidelines, hand-sanitizer stations and awareness posters. However, many health-care workers still washed their hands less than half as often as expected. KidneyBuzz.com knows that it can be awkward and intimidating, but it is essential to remind your doctors and nurses to wash their hands. What may be reassuring is that healthcare professionals welcome patients reminding them about "quality care" standards according to Dr. William Bornstein, Chief Quality and Medical Officer of Atlanta's Emory Healthcare.
Emergency departments are required to care for patients whether or not they are able to pay. That means any questions about insurance and payment might not come until after a patient is in the clear. When the bill does come, it may very well be alarmingly large. But it shouldn’t be seen as the final price tag, says Linda Adler, chief executive of Pathfinders Medical Advocacy & Consulting, a company that helps patients negotiate medical bills. “Think of it as just a starting point,” says Adler, who estimates that disputing the bill typically leads to breaks of 10% to 25%. If no break is offered, many patients are at least put on a payment plan that buys them more time to pay and avoids the high interest charges that can hit consumers who put the bill on a credit card.
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If you are on Medicare and kept for "observation" then bring your drugs with you, or send somebody home to get them because you might be charged for self-administered drugs that Medicare will not cover since you were not admitted to the hospital as an inpatient. The charge could be astronomical, according to some of KidneyBuzz.com's viewers.
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An emergency department will never turn you away, but the hospital staff also will not necessarily tell you about your cheaper options. There could be a clinic or urgent-care center down the street that is better equipped to treat your condition, meaning shorter wait times and a smaller bill. This is due to the fact that emergency rooms often need to charge higher rates because they are open 24/7. According to the Urgent Care Association of America, emergency departments can charge $200 to $600 more than urgent care centers for treating the same medical issues.
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KidneyBuzz.com encourages you to utilize these strategies to improve emergency treatment, reduce risk of infections as well as limit your out-of-pocket expenses.
*Note: Do not forget to order your No BP/No Stick Medical Alert Bracelet!
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Marte, Jonnelle. "10 Things Emergency Rooms Won't Tell You."Http://www.marketwatch.com/. MarketWatch, Inc.