Quick and hopefully painless
The emergency room is the last place anyone wants to have to go, but at some point you or someone you love may have to pay a visit. Aside from dealing with the illness or injury that has brought you there, waiting to be seen is one of the hardest and most dreaded parts of a trip to the ER.
According to an article in the Toronto Star, there are some things you can do that may help speed the process along and ensure that you’re getting the best possible care in the process.
6 things to remember if you’re headed to the ER
- Bring a list of your medications and supplements. This list, along with the contact numbers for your family doctor or any specialists you may be seeing, can help provide a full picture of your condition. If you have printouts of recent test results or hospital discharge summaries those are also good to have with you. It makes sense to keep this information in a document that you update regularly and keep in a safe place so it’s always ready to grab if need be.
- Bring your assistive devices. If you use glasses, a hearing aid or cane on a daily basis, make sure to bring them with you because it’s important for the medical team to understand your baseline level of functioning.
- Call your doctor before you go. If you think you’re having a stroke or a heart attack, call an ambulance immediately, but otherwise call your doctor and let him or her know that you’re heading to the hospital. Even if it’s after hours and you have to leave a message, it’s still a good idea. Your doctor may be able to help with a treatment plan or be able to share key information about your health and current medical condition.
- Stay calm. The emergency room is a stressful place and the staff understands that you’re scared and not feeling well. Yelling or getting upset at them won’t make them able to see you any faster, and if you’re threatening it could actually result in you being removed from the department.
- Bring somebody with you. You should try to bring someone along with you who can advocate for you, help you keep track of any advice and information you’re given by doctors, and drive you home if you’ve been given pain medication—but just bring one person. Emergency waiting rooms are crowded enough without a whole entourage accompanying each patient.
- Bring something to keep you occupied. If you’re feeling well enough, bring a crossword, some knitting, or a book. You will have to wait, so keeping yourself busy is a good way to pass the time more comfortably.
Once you’ve arrived
Perhaps the most important thing to know about the emergency room is that there is actually a very good reason that you may be waiting for a long time. The staff isn’t being negligent or thoughtless—they are simply busy with cases that are more urgent, or they might be taking a much-needed break from an incredibly intense and demanding work environment.
When you arrive, you are seen by a triage nurse who assesses your condition in order to determine the severity of your injury or illness and ensure that you are stable and not in any immediate medical danger. Based on that assessment you will either be seen by a doctor right away, or you will wait while patients with more urgent medical concerns are treated.
Sometimes “simple” problems can be dealt with quickly if time and circumstances permit, but often those simple cases will be required to wait while patients with more serious or life-threatening issues are cared for.
If your condition worsens while you’re waiting, or you think the severity of your condition has been missed, definitely make a point of telling the triage nurse, or sending a loved one up to report for you. This is information that they need to have. ER staff is usually overwhelmed and are always extremely busy trying to ensure that everyone is cared for, but if for some reason you feel you are not getting the care you need after you have spoken up, politely ask to speak to the charge or senior nurse or physician.
The emergency room can sometimes be a scary and stressful place, but understanding that you will have to wait and being as prepared as possible when you arrive are important ways to make your visit go as smoothly as possible.
For more information and advice that might help you the next time you or a loved one is headed to the ER, visit HowStuffWorks Health.
413105F CAN/US (12/15)