Preventative Measures to Avoid ED Use


If you’re like most people, you don’t especially enjoy going to a hospital emergency room. However, you may feel like you have no choice when an injury or sudden symptoms of an illness occur after hours when you do not have access to your regular physician. While that is understandable, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, states that up to 27 percent of all emergency department visits are preventable.

Some of the reasons the AHRQ lists for making unnecessary trips to a hospital emergency room include lack of access to primary care, poor management of chronic health conditions, and poor decision-making skills on the part of patients. Further, it states that conditions related to asthma, mental health, substance abuse, and dental conditions are the most common types of conditions that people present with at a hospital emergency department that would be more appropriate for another type of healthcare setting.

Health Tips to Prevent the Need for an Emergency Department Visit

Sometimes the need to find immediate healthcare is just bad luck. For example, you’re leaving the house in the morning and trip over a rug you didn’t realize someone had placed there and hit your head. You start bleeding profusely and realize you might need stitches. Accidents and illnesses happen to everyone. Even so, you may have more control over the need to seek emergency healthcare than you might think. Below are tips you can implement right away to take better control of your health.

  • Quit smoking or don’t start: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that smoking is currently the top preventable cause of death. Perhaps you have tried to quit several times but resume the habit in short order. UPMC Western Maryland is pleased to let you know that we offer several free smoking cessation resources. We are here to support you on your journey to becoming a non-smoker and help you reduce the risk of a heart attack or other major health event that will send you to the UPMC Western Maryland Emergency Department.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight: An unhealthy diet and lack of exercise can quickly lead to extra pounds. Unfortunately, that increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and arthritis. All of these conditions can send you to the emergency room with severe pain or even life-threatening symptoms. While watching your weight helps you to look good, it allows you to feel even better.
  • Don’t use drugs and only consume alcohol in moderation: Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol lowers your inhibitions and decreases your ability to make sound judgments. It also greatly increases your chances of getting into a car crash or sustaining another type of injury. Additionally, habitual substance or alcohol use increases the likelihood of many serious diseases. According to the NIH, it’s common for people who use the emergency room 10 or more times per year to have an underlying addiction issue they must address first before they can stop this pattern of behavior.
  • Take medications as prescribed: If you have a long-term health condition such as type 2 diabetes or hypertension, the most important thing you can do other than making healthy lifestyle changes is to take the medication your doctor prescribes you. Don’t hesitate to speak up if you don’t understand the reason for the prescription or you need additional resources to help pay for it.

Visit Urgent Care or Your Own Provider Whenever Possible

Did you know that UPMC Western Maryland operates three urgent care centers that are open seven days a week, 12 hours a day? You might consider utilizing one for prompt healthcare if you can’t wait to schedule a doctor appointment but are not experiencing an emergency. You can visit one of our centers in Frostburg, Maryland; Cumberland, Maryland; or Short Gap, West Virginia between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. without an appointment. You can click here to learn more about the centers and the types of conditions normally treated there.

You may also be able to get a same-day appointment with your provider during regular office hours. Most doctors leave some time in their schedule each day to see patients with more pressing concerns. This would be the best option since he or she has access to your previous medical history and knows the current concerns you struggle with as well. Please let us know if we can help you in any other way.