Three Hour Emergency Room Wait Edition – Personal Finance Review

May 18, 2008

Our almost two year old son likes to get dirty and do things that are dangerous.  His favorite gravity defying move is to stand up on things and try to balance himself.  You’d think that’s how he would’ve earned his first trip to the emergency room.

Emergency Room Visit
Instead he tripped while trying to get up from his little picnic table and cracked his forehead on the side of a concrete pad on our patio.  There wasn’t much blood or crying but it was obvious from the gaping hole on the side of his face that doctor’s visit was necessary.  Our pediatrician has a hotline you can call on the weekends, the nurse there suggested seeing a doctor and the only place to do that on a Sunday was the emergency room.

Three Hour Wait
We’ve heard enough horror stories about wait times in the ER that we went prepared.  We packed up, checked in, and waited three hours to see the doctor.  Our little guy was surprisingly in a good mood most of the time despite the blood continually oozing from his wound.  I think his good spirits had a lot to do with the pre-emergency room preparation we did.  Here’s what I’d recommend to any parent taking their kid for a long wait at the hospital:

1) Bring Food.  (See jabster’s comments below). We brought along lunch for when he got hungry and snacks for when he was fussy.

2) Bring Toys/Books.  He kept himself entertained for quite a while playing with his trucks and reading books.

3) Bring Something Soothing.  We left his blanket at home so he wouldn’t get blood all over it. He usually only gets his pacifier in his crib but we made an exception for a hospital visit and brought it along.

4) Bring Wipes.  He was constantly touching everything he could in the waiting room then sticking his fingers in his mouth.  We used a lot of wipes trying to keep his hands clean and the germs out of his mouth.

5) Bring Patience.  This is obviously the most important of all.  Sitting in a waiting room with a hurt kid for hours on end will try anyone’s patience.  I’m just glad my wife and I were both there to help out, I don’t know how single parents do it.

Luckily he had no problems other than the bloody gash, he’s all patched up and ready to heal.  Even though we have insurance I’m still a little worried how much the emergency room visit is going to cost us.  As we waited I read a little more of the book “Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely ”, it’s had some valuable information so far on making your health care dollars go further, I’d recommend picking up a copy.

Anyhow, due to the extended hospital visit today is going to be an abbreviated personal finance review for the week.  Here are the articles that caught my eye: 

Ten Steps To Take When You Are In Financial Trouble @ Gen X Finance

How Do I Reduce Investment Fees? @ Million Dollar Journey

Increase Your Salary Without Increasing Your Work @ Digerati Life

Credit Card Arbitrage Q&A @ My Dollar Plan

How I Invested My Roth IRA This Year @ Lazy Man & Money

Soliciting Earthquake Relief Donation @ Suns Financial Diary

– A simple way to save money on food @ Brip Blap

Save Money by Turning Off Your TV  @ Free Money Finance

There’s certainly alot of talk about the economic stimulus rebate checks.  Five Cent Nickel looks at Economic Stimulus Spending: Expectations vs. Reality, Consumerism Commentary comments on Paper Check Rebates for having Filing Fees Deducted, and the Mighty Bargain Hunter has his stimulus payment and seven suggestions for how you could use your money. Blogging Away Debt warns us of 15,000 Stimulus Payments Sent to the Wrong Accounts, if you want to check on your money, I covered how to track your economic stimulus check.

– No Credit Needed is getting ready for a family vacation, it’s that season and I’m covering travel tips for saving money on vacation and still having fun.

Get Rich Slowly and the Consumerist point out this news article about Coupon Chrissy and how she saves amazing amounts of money by smart use of coupons. Being Frugal also takes a look at some coupons for the summer, the Simple Dollar lists Sixteen Hardcore Tactics for Minimizing Your Monthly Bills, and My Money Blog looks at Small Rewards Programs For Grocery Shopping. For more frugal tips check out the latest collection of frugal articles at Quest for Four Pillars.

– Lastly, thanks to Money Under 30 for hosting the last personal finance carnival featuring my post on buying health insurance for college graduates.


Will this article help you save or earn more money? Get others like it simply by entering your email address below. Your email is used only for delivering daily money tips and you can opt out of delivery at any time. Click here to see all your free subscription options.


Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

All posts by


7 Responses to Three Hour Emergency Room Wait Edition – Personal Finance Review

  • Rachel @ Master Your Card

    Luckily the only time I had to take my son to the emergency room was in the evening and there was only one other person waiting to see the doctor. They have a great selection of toys in the waiting room which was lucky as I had only prepared food, drinks, nappies and spare clothes – completely forgetting about toys.

  • jabster

    I’m glad he did so well, and very impressed that he held still for the exam and treatment. Another tip is that if you have more than one child, leave the non-injured kids with a trusted neighbor, a grandparent, or a friend — or have one of those people meet you at the hospital to pick up the other kids. That leaves both parents free to focus on the injured child and whatever medical decisions are necessary. Parenthood — it’s not for the faint of heart!

  • Ben

    Mike, thanks for hosting. I know it’s a lot of work!

  • Ben

    Oops, thanks for the warning jabster. I guess as parents we’re always learning, I hadn’t thought of that aspect. I’ve updated the list to reflect your warning.

    Luckily, no surgery was needed for our little guy and he did stay quite still while the doctor worked on him.

  • Four Pillars

    Thanks a lot for the link!


  • jabster

    An article:
    Modern fasting guidelines in children . Best Practice & Research Clinical Anaesthesiology , Volume 20 , Issue 3 , Pages 471 – 481 S. Cook-Sather , R. Litman


    Pediatric fasting guidelines are intended to reduce the risk of pulmonary aspiration of gastric contents and facilitate the safe and efficient conduct of anesthesia. Recent changes in these guidelines, while assuring appropriate levels of patient safety, have been directed at improving the overall perioperative experience for infants, children, and their parents. Now after nearly 15 years of practice worldwide, the relative safety and benefits of allowing clear liquids up to 2hr prior to anesthesia for otherwise healthy children are well established. Shortened fasting periods for breast milk (3hr), formula (4hr) and light meals (6hr) are supported by accumulated experience and an evolving literature that includes evidence of minimal gastric fluid volumes (GFVs) at the time of surgery. Ideal fasting intervals for children with disorders that may affect gastrointestinal transit have yet to be determined.

  • jabster

    As an anesthesiologist, I strongly urge all parents out there PLEASE DO NOT FEED YOUR CHILD IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM. If your child needs surgery, he or she will have the safest induction of anesthesia if his or her stomach is as empty as possible. If you feed your child while waiting for medical attention and your child needs non-emergent surgery, then you have just bought 6 more hours of waiting (for the stomach to empty) since the last bite of food. If your child needs emergent surgery, then you have just increased your child’s risk of aspiration pneumonia and death. I have 4 children ages 2 to 14. Two of them (so far) have had ER visits for broken bones, and I understand how cranky and hungry they get. Bring toys, bring patience, bring a blankey or lovey, but please please please do not bring food to the emergency room. A little water or even small sips of Sprite are okay, but nothing more substantial than that, for the safety of your child.