Some ER's Are Taking Appointments

Hospitals around the country are hoping online ER appointments will help attract patients anxious to avoid long waits in a crowded and often chaotic environment.

The system is intended only for patients who don't have life-threatening or debilitating emergencies.

To check in online, patients must explain the reason for their visit and check a box that they can wait for treatment.

Patients having chest pain or trouble breathing, for instance, are instructed to call 911 or go directly to an ER.

Those with an ankle sprain or a fever, for instance, might be able to make an appointment.

Some critics say the online check-in system may be convenient but is not necessarily cost-effective.

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