A member of the practice texted me @7:51 AM today (Saturday) saying that he gashed his head open just above his left eye earlier in the morning when he ran into a door post head-on in the dark. He decided to clean the wound out and bandage it until he could contact me rather than going to the ER in the middle of the night, which was a good choice. Most clean lacerations can wait until the next morning to be repaired. His was vertical, about ¾ inches and needed stitches because it would gap open everytime he raised his eyebrows and it would heal more slowly and leave a larger car than if it were repaired.
So, we met at 10AM at the clinic in my procedure room that I equipped 18 years ago with better lighting than most ERs I’ve worked in (and I have worked in a lot). Both of us were wearing N95 masks to prevent a potential exposure to the coronavirus. Most urgent care facilities won’t suture a facial laceration. The last bill I saw from a Ballad ER to repair a facial laceration was $3,200. The charges here were $35 for an intermediate laceration less than one inch and $145 for an office visit on the weekend for a total of $180.
Even dirty lacerations such as a dog bite to the finger can wait until the next morning if cleaned thoroughly with water and sterilized with hydrogen peroxide or iodine (Betadine) diluted in water. This happened to a woman member several months ago trying to break up a dog fight in her home at 10PM. She took a picture of it on her cell phone and texted it to me. I instructed her how to clean it and take care of it until the next morning. She met me 10 hours later when the clinic re-opened where I irrigated it thoroughly under pressure with Simply Saline, sutured it, gave her a tetanus shot and a bottle of antibiotics to help prevent infections – all for $75.
The lesson here is don’t go to the ER with a cut. Text me first, and we’ll arrange some way to save you several thousand dollars over going to the ER.