Reducing the exposure to this problem is a challenge to which no obvious solution exists. Advocating for our patients to find a workable solution and building a consensus across emergency physicians and nurses, pharmacists, and hospital administrators is no simple task. You should know how this issue is addressed at your hospital, and if a policy isn’t in place, now is the time to start working on one. If patients have not yet asked you how an observation stay will affect their out-of-pocket costs, just wait—one will soon.
Dr. Natsui is a Harvard-affiliated emergency medicine resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston.