Jackson Hospital doctor discusses ER overcrowding

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 5:26 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2022 at 10:19 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Emergency rooms in Alabama are once again facing an influx of patients, but this time it’s not because of COVID-19.

UAB reports the number of emergency room patients waiting on beds is at an all-time high. And that’s putting added stress on health care workers.

Doctors at Jackson Hospital say they are still seeing some patients for COVID, but the backlog of patients is mostly because people are seeking help in the emergency room for illnesses that are not life-threatening and that could be treated by their primary physician.

Dr. Max Capouano says the only reason to go to the ER is if you are having heart palpitations, shortness of breath, a seizure, stroke symptoms, slurred speech, chest pain or if you have been in a severe accident.

All other illnesses like sore throat, flu symptoms or cuts and bruises can be treated by your primary doctor.

Another reason Capouano says emergency rooms are backed up is due to many patients coming in without health insurance.

“When people don’t have insurance, they can use the emergency room as a primary care facility, and that really kind of backs up the system for everybody,” said Capouano. “Not only is there no continuity in care because they’re going to get their blood pressure medication refilled at this emergency or that that emergency room, and those physicians may not know or be aware of any other chronic illnesses or other medications you’re taking.”

To ensure that everyone is getting the care they need, Capouano says to look into medical insurance Medicare or Medicaid and see what you quality for. That’s another reason he says patients have such long waits in the ER. Sometimes waits can be seven or eight hours or even longer.

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