Q. Why do I receive a bill from AAMC and one from DESPA?
A. The doctors, PA's, and nurse practitioners in the AAMC Emergency Department are not employees of the hospital. DESPA has an agreement with Anne Arundel Medical Center to provide professional services for Emergency Department patients. Therefore, DESPA bills independently for that aspect of your care. Other medical providers who practice solely, or primarily, in the hospital, have similar arrangements, and also bill independently. If you have any questions regarding your bill from DESPA, please contact our billing department at 1-800-492-5153. To pay your bill, go to http://www.billinghelper.com.
Q. How is an Emergency Department (ED) visit different from a visit to my doctor's office?
A. There are several characteristics of an ED visit that differentiate it from a visit with your regular doctor. First, ED visits are not scheduled, and can occur at any hour and on any day. Second, the primary responsibility of the emergency provider is to identify serious or life threatening conditions that require emergent treatment, and to provide or arrange for that treatment. In cases that do not require emergency care, the ED provider will provide appropriate temporizing treatment, and referral to a specialist or a primary care provider who can undertake additional evaluation and or treatment.
Q. Why was a patient who arrived after me taken to an exam room or seen before me?
A. Care of Emergency Department patients is prioritized through a process known as triage. Triage collects specific information about the complaint, history, vital signs, and pain level which sorts the patients in the order they need to be seen. Most non-urgent complaints are addressed in the order of arrival. At the AAMC Emergency Department, we strive to see all patients as quickly as possible; however, because ED visits are unscheduled and unpredictable, the triage process is necessary.
Q. How long should I expect to spend in the ED?
A. Many factors determine how long your Emergency Department visit will be. For minor emergencies that require minimal or no testing, the visit may be an hour or less. In cases where extensive testing, such as CT scans, ultrasound, or extensive blood work is necessary, the ED visit may take several hours. Additionally, some emergencies require treatments that take some time. Some delays occur because the ED providers are often caring for several patients simultaneously. We do our best to avoid unnecessary delays.
Q. Will I be seen by a doctor every time I go to the ED?
A. Not necessarily. Many of the minor emergencies that present to the Emergency Department can be cared for by our experienced nurse practitioners and physician assistants, under the supervision of the physicians on duty. Depending on the seriousness or complexity of the case, the physician may also interview and or examine the patient. When being seen by a nurse practitioner or physician assistant, a patient may always request to be seen by an attending physician.
Q. What's the difference between an ED and an ER?
A. Emergency medicine developed as a medical specialty in the 1960's due in part to concerns about hospital care of injured patients. Emergency medical services (or EMS: EMTs and Paramedics) were highly variable around the country and in many cases badly injured victims of car wrecks or other trauma might wait hours to be transported to the hospital. Once arrived there were often no physicians available to care for the patient immediately and those providing care had little or no training on how to care for emergencies. Most hospitals had small 'emergency wards' or even just a room, hence ER. As understanding of the need for better services spread hospitals developed emergency units and eventually departments. Emergency medicine residency programs were developed and have become a competitive specialty for medical students. Anne Arundel now has over 60 rooms and can treat over 90,000 patients a year. The days of the emergency room are long past.