There is a column in the New York Times today by a title "No cure for bad timing". In it she talks about the two different kinds of patients that come into her office for minor problems like a cold, back pain, ankle sprain.
The first type of patient is one who has little tolerance for discomfort. They are up and out the door to medical care within a couple of hours of symptoms. They are the people we see with onset of vomiting 4 hours ago or a sore throat that morning.
The second type of patient waits. They are willing to give it a couple of days to go away. They feel worse so off they go to the ER.
The first patient is gonna be disappointed. They ran in just as the problem was starting. We may do a throat culture which most likely is negative. They are sent on their merry way and told to ride it out with hydration and tylenol. They will feel worse the next day. They may come back or just say we gave them bad care. Either way it goes away in a couple of days.
The second patient is going to be happy. We probably won't do much for their sore throat either. Maybe give them some ibuprofen. They will feel better tomorrow. Why? The illness has run its course. They waited to come. We will be their hero. The ibuprofen is what made the difference they think.
Moral of the story: If you have a minor problem, wait a few days to come to the ER. At least when you feel better the next day as you would have despite coming to see us, you will feel better about having sat in the waiting room for 3 hours.