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Industry Voices—Physician encounters should be long-term relationships, not one-night stands

February 14, 2019 / Hamad Husainy

Too often in this country, emergency room visits are treated like standalone events—“right swipes” of medical care characterized by brief encounters that fix the most emergent issues before patients are sent on their way. Recently, I read an article comparing emergency department utilization to one-night stands, and it made me cringe. There’s a growing perception that ED encounters are superficial, shallow, skin-deep, and often without a second thought to the patient’s long-term needs. This couldn’t be further from reality and is a dangerous precedent for physicians to reinforce. If everyone could only walk a shift in the shoes of America’s emergency providers, they might understand our frustration with this perception. The ED setting oversees more than 130 million visits annually. Sure, some patients seek a no-strings-attached encounter with our health system, but most physicians see themselves as stakeholders in long-term health. Many patient...