Smart ER: Are You Providing Yourself With Fractured Care?

If you’ve been following Smart ER in this space … and you should be … you know that we place finding a primary care physician above all other suggestions on preparing for illness and injury.

Dr. Donald S. Beam

But, don’t just take our word for it.

We sat down to talk about Smart ER with Dr. Donald S. Beam, Blue Cross Complete’s chief medical officer and no stranger to the topic, and this is what he had to say.

High on Dr. Beam’s list of arguments is making sure you don’t find yourself trying to stay healthy while providing yourself with what he aptly calls “fractured care.”

“When you don’t take advantage of the continuity a regular primary care doctor brings, your care just winds of being episodic,” he said. “It’s ‘fractured care.’

“When you just go from one sudden illness or injury to another, you have no preventive care, no physician monitoring all of your care and that means all of your care is just reactive. That’s hardly the best way to achieve good health.”

You have to take a few moments to grasp the nugget of Dr. Beam’s thoughts on primary care and how you should seek help when injury or illness pay a visit to you or your family. At heart, it’s not about cost and it’s certainly not about the quality of medicine today’s hospital emergency departments try to deliver.

It’s about you and your own attitude towards your personal health care.

“It’s so simple,” he said. “Make sure you have a primary care physician and use him or her. Your PCP can best direct your care. Just call your PCP, ask for their direction and go from there.”

Here’s something to motivate you in that direction: A couple of recent studies showed that the more crowded emergency rooms become, the more difficult it becomes for ER staff to provide care. One of those studies was conducted by George Washington University, the other reported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

“Episodic care without the involvement of your PCP is, by definition, of lesser quality,” Dr. Beam said. “When you make the ER your ‘primary care source,’ you don’t receive the care you need, particularly preventive care, and the more expensive it becomes for all of us.”

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