Study Confirms Peak Time to Present with Chronic Complaint is 2 AM

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CHICAGO, IL – Researchers from the Center for Emergency Room Usage and Medical Examination Network (CERUMEN) shockingly discover the most common time to present to the emergency room with a chronic medical problem is 2 o’clock in the morning.

Hey, everyone, it's 2 AM! Who needs a ride to the ED?
Hey, everyone, it’s 2 AM! Who needs a ride to the ED?

Findings surprised emergency medicine attending, Dr. Trip Onin.  “We pride ourselves on providing reliable, critical care for the most urgent patients.  Why would anyone with a chronic non-life threatening medical condition come to the ED?  And why would anyone voluntarily come in overnight?  Shouldn’t they be sleeping?  Shouldn’t we be sleeping?”

But the CERUMEN study group found a very high impact of nonurgent visits, peaking around 2 AM when 99% of ED visits were for chronic medical complaints.  Among the most common complains?  Constipation, back pain, fatigue, headache, gout, evaluation of moles, and impacted cerumen.  Pediatric EDs were not immune to the 2 AM influx of chronic complaints either, with constipation, learning disability, and sensory integration disorder topping the list.

Patients report many compelling reasons for their 2 AM visits to the ED, including lack of quality TV programming at that time of night, triage nurse at their primary care office sent them in, and, most commonly, their ride was finally available to take them.  In that case, 94% of those giving rides also sought evaluation in the ED “because they were already there.”

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  • Dr. Amy G. Dala

    Dr. Amy G. Dala spends her days trying to save the children from The Google, Jenny McCarthy, and unnecessary head CTs. She works because the alternative—being a stay-at-home mother to her several young tyrants—is much scarier. Follow her @AmyGDalaMD.

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