Hours of waiting, uncertainty, and logistics. Visiting the emergency room is usually an unpleasant experience. Let’s be honest, you’re not there for a good reason! Whether you’re injured, sick, or in need of immediate medical attention, the emergency room can be an overwhelming and stressful place at times. Not to mention, over 135 million people visit the ER annually. So how can you make this less than pleasurable experience less stressful? Here are 10 tips to keep in mind the next time you visit the emergency room.
1. Know When to Go
One of the biggest things that slows down the entire ER process is when people visit the emergency room for issues that can be treated elsewhere. If you’re exhibiting common cold symptoms, aches or pains or anxiety, try calling your primary care physician before visiting the emergency room. ER doctors are not there to diagnose colds or minor infections and prescribe antibiotics. It’s also not their job to refer you to a chiropractor, orthopedic doctor or even a psychologist. Unless you feel that your condition is life threatening, it may not be an issue for the emergency room. Here are several reasons you should visit an ER:
- Difficulty breathing
- Passing out or fainting
- Severe chest pains
- Injury (broken or sprained bone, laceration, etc.)
- Sudden, severe headache
- Suddenly being unable to speak, move or walk
- Signs of stroke (drooping or paralysis on one side of the body, disorientation)
By only visiting the ER when you are actually experiencing a medical emergency, you will help cut down on everyone’s wait time and ensure that those individuals with true emergencies receive the immediate attention they need.
2. Don’t Drive Yourself
If you are feeling dizzy, disorientated, or are in extreme pain or discomfort, do not drive yourself to the emergency room. No matter how close the hospital is to your home or location, it’s always best to either call an ambulance or have a trusted family member or friend drive you. By trying to drive yourself, you’re not only putting yourself at risk but you’re also compromising the safety of other motorists on the road. You’ll also need a ride home once you are discharged from the hospital and most facilities will not release you unless there is another responsible party present to drive you.
3. Bring a List of Medications
The nurses in the emergency room will always ask what medications you are currently taking. You need to know the name, the dosage, and the frequency with which you take them. It’s also helpful if you know when the last time you took your medications was. If you are a person who takes a lot of medications, keep an updated list in your wallet or purse. This way, you can simply hand the list to the nurse when needed. Be sure to write your medications down neatly and exactly as they appear on your prescription bottle. This information is crucial so that nurses and doctors can properly treat you. If they’re unaware of the medications in your body, it may prevent them from prescribing the medications you need to treat your current condition. It’s especially important to know if you’re taking any medication that also acts as a blood thinner. This information is imperative in case you need emergency surgery.
4. Have Your Insurance Information Ready
Did you know that an emergency room cannot turn you away if you don’t have medical insurance? Although the hospital is required to treat you, if you don’t have medical coverage, expect to get a hefty bill in the mail. If you do have insurance, it’s important to know which type of coverage you have. Is it Medicare or Medicaid? Do you have gap coverage like medigap plan F? All of this is useful information to have before entering the ER. Keep all insurance cards and policy numbers in your wallet. The paperwork you fill out generally asks for the name, address, group, and policy number of each plan. You also need to know some personal information about the benefit holder if it’s someone other than yourself (i.e. a spouse or parent).
5. Bring Only One Adult With You
The emergency room is not a party place. Don’t bring your children or more than one adult with you. Waiting rooms are already crowded enough and don’t need additional people taking up needed space. Not to mention, most emergency rooms only allow one other person into the back room with the patient. This means all of the other people will be left waiting outside. This is both unnecessary and a nuisance. Choose a responsible adult accompany you and one that is willing to stay until you are released.
6. Expect to Wait
It’s not called a waiting room for nothing! You will be required to wait in the emergency room. This is especially true because ER’s do not work on a “first come first serve basis”. Although this is the general rule of thumb and you will be seen in the order in which you arrive, if a more severe medical emergency arises during your time in the waiting room, you will need to wait longer. Immediate emergencies include profuse bleeding, a serious car accident, cardiac arrest, an unresponsive individual, and similar conditions. The ER staff will determine the severity of the conditions and see patients accordingly, which is even more reason to avoid the ER if your condition is not a true medical emergency.
7. Be Honest and Forthcoming
Just as you need to keep up to date records of the current medications you’re taking, you also need to be honest with the nurses and doctors about your condition. In order to properly diagnose and treat you, the hospital staff needs to know everything about your history. This includes things like drug or alcohol abuse, prior visits to the hospital, chronic conditions or any other information that might help them better treat you. If you withhold information from the ER staff, you’re at risk of being incorrectly diagnosed and treated. You may also cause further injury or complications based on the care you’re given. This isn’t fair to you or to the hospital staff. No matter how embarrassing or unpleasant your medical history is, you need to share it with the medical professionals so that they can help you to the best of their ability and so that you remain safe.
The ER is not somewhere that you want to end up. But if you need to go, these 7 tips can help make your time there both brief and beneficial. Be sure to make wise decisions in terms of visiting the emergency room, the mode of transportation you choose, and offering nurses and doctors the correct information they need for effective care and treatment.
Article Submitted By Community Writer