Tips to have an efficient ER visit
1. Know your health history.
2. Know your medication- names, dosages frequency, and reason that you take them. Telling me that you take a “little white pill” doesn’t help.
3. Expectancy. Patients in the ER are seen according to acuity of symptoms. It is called triage. Patient who are most severely ill are seen first. The ER does not operate on a first-come first-serve basis. Therefore, if you visit to the emergency room with a less than life-threatening illness, you may have a long time to wait. For example, if you visit to the emergency room with upper respiratory infection symptoms without fever or productive cough, these symptoms may be better managed by giving your primary care physician a call, or visiting in urgent care.
4. Know when to go. Of course, you must use your best judgment when deciding when you come to the emergency room. However, there are some symptoms which if you experience them, should prompt you to immediately go to the emergency room. Some examples of this are: chest pain, stroke symptoms, vomiting blood, loss of consciousness, rectal bleeding, persistent fever, and trauma- just to name a few.
5. Communication. Communication is so vital to a successful physician-patient relationship. On a visit to the ER several people will ask you what seems like the exact same questions over and over again. What we are trying to do is to make sure that we have accurately obtained information from you. When your doctor comes to see you he or she is trying to get information about your condition. While you are telling your story, your doctor is thinking about all of the possible disease processes that can be going on, and formulating in initial treatment plan to evaluate your symptoms. It is very important answer the question the best of your ability. Bear in mind that we understand that you are sick and you may not want to answer all of the questions over and over.
6. Know your rights and also your responsibilities. Patients have a right to be treated with the utmost respect. I don’t think that anyone who practices in healthcare has the goal or the intention to make anyone wait; however it is the patient’s responsibility to refrain from abusive treatment of ER staff. The ER is at times, a very dangerous place to work. There is a low tolerance threshold for any aggressive behavior. This includes language (cursing, threats, etc) Cursing, verbal abuse, threats and overt acts of violence are taken very, very seriously and will invite security to your bedside. This includes your family members and friends.
7. State your main complaint.
What is bothering you MOST?
That laundry list of ailments? Most of those will not be addressed in one visit anywhere. But especially in the ER, where the pace is hectic. Having chest pain? Let’s talk about your chest pain. Let’s not talk about your gout, sexual dysfunction, and hair loss in addition. The ER is for acute ( urgent life-threatening) complaints. So when you present with the laundry list, don’t be surprised if everything is not addressed and you are referred to your primary care provider.
8. Be honest.
There’s no need to over- or underestimate what’s going on. There’s no need to be less than truthful about your habits- we can check it anyway most of the time. Stating your purpose helps to reduce your wait time. For example, don’t complain of abdominal pain and go through that work up when all you want is a pregnancy test. ( true story)
9. Consider urgent care for minor illnesses or injuries. These types of clinics are designed to see lesser acuity (less severely ill) patients, and can usually get your issue addressed quickly. Most urgent cares also take insurance.