This week, we’re going to talk about when you should go to the hospital. This obviously will apply to COVID-19, but also just in general.


This is not only timely, it’s also something that I feel like everyone should know! 


I’ve had two specific cases this weekend that made me want to talk about this topic. One case is an in hospital case, and the other is an outpatient case. Exact scenarios won’t be mentioned, but both are pretty sick. 


You have to know when to go to the hospital and when not to. 


Hospitals and Medical Errors


There are big differences in hospitals. Some are really good. Some are not that great. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all trying. 


I think the cause of a lot of medical errors is because of bureaucracy (meaning red tape that has to be done that has nothing to do with and takes away from patient care). 


There are between 250,000 and 440,000 deaths every year due to medical errors. It’s the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. 


Think about that. 


We live in a country that’s so advanced with all the resources in the world. We’re able to do some amazing things, and yet we still have this happen. 


It’s a real shame and we need to fix this. 


What’s the cause of this? In my opinion it’s inadequate staffing, errors in judgement, system defects, preventable adverse effects, staff burnout, infections, misdiagnosis, treatment delay, failure to act on tests you’ve gotten, etc. 


This crisis we’re in right now with COVID-19 I believe will help our system in the long run. We were totally unprepared for it. Our testing has been mostly worthless. Hopefully, this will wake us up so we can fix a few things. 


When should you go to the hospital? 

Your goal should be to not go to the hospital with COVID-19. 


One of the problems is that when a patient tests positive for COVID-19, they then go to the hospital and sit in the lobby with tons of other people. There is often no social distancing going on in a lobby full of sick people. I know people who had to wait 5 hours at the ER just to get seen. 


A lot of people go to the ER when they don’t need to. And at the same time, a lot of people don’t go to the ER when they actually need to. This happens with COVID-19, and just in general. 


Side Note: If you have chest pain and can’t breathe, or have symptoms of a stroke, you need to go to the ER by ambulance.


What we’re going through now should lead to more outpatient testing and treatment. 


My focus the last 33 years as a medical doctor has been on prevention. It turns out that this is right! Getting rid of obesity and building up your immune system is the safest thing you can do as far as your health goes. We have got to do a better job with preventative medicine in this country. 



Now if you do get really sick, the positive is that they are making lots of strides with treatment in the hospital. I’ll reemphasize this, if your breathing gets worse and worse you go to the ER. 


One other thing COVID-19 has brought to the forefront is telemedicine, which I am doing a lot of now. 


I am all for telemedicine. It’s going to be a much bigger part of our healthcare system from now on, and I’m all for it. 


Going to the hospital needs to be a last resort. One reason for that right now is that family can’t be there with you. I think you need a family member present to help make sure errors aren’t made. 


There are many dying alone in the hospital, which I think is the biggest tragedy of COVID-19. 


In the future my hope is that we will be more ready for this scenario with a focus on prevention first, immune support, better testing and better treatment, and possibly an effective vaccine.


I was just sent an article on what could be a breakthrough with testing that is happening with the NBA and Yale University. Hopefully this will get approved and we can get our hands on it soon. It’s a saliva test and it only takes a few minutes to detect. It’s not nearly as invasive as the test now. It could be more accurate and it’s going to be cheap. 


The answer in my opinion is figuring out the testing. I’m not sure a vaccine is the total answer to this thing. 


Back to the two patients I mentioned at the beginning of this article. One needed to be in the hospital. The other didn’t. The treatment of both was appropriate and they’re both going to do well. 


Again, if you’re short of breath and can’t breathe, you need to go to the ER. Don’t forget about that. 


You go to the hospital when you have no other choice, and hopefully with a family member or close friend that can look after you. 


A lot of improvements are going to be made in the way we deliver healthcare efficiently in this country. 


Hospitals are wonderful. They’re able to save lives. But a lot of times you don’t want to be there if you can be treated as an outpatient. Unfortunately with the primary care situation it can be tough to get into the doctor. Because of this a lot of people go straight to the ER for things that should be treated on an outpatient basis. 


I hope this is helpful, We’re in a crisis, but good things are going to come out of this. I’m optimistic. There are sure to be a lot of promising treatments on the horizon. 


Again and always, take care of yourself so you can take care of others.