Emergency Room Visits

Article details how to have a tolerable emergency room visit.

Visiting the emergency room (ER) is never something you anticipate. The atmosphere can be downright scary with screaming babies, broken bones, and people groaning in pain. However, there are several ways to make an ER visit easier. Here are just a few tips for an ER patient's family and friends:

Before the visit

-Be familiar with the fastest route to the local ER

-Be familiar with the emergency room's procedures, including who to check in with initially, who to check with about the patient's status, who is allowed to visit the patient, and if there is a triage system.

The initial screening and waiting

-If there are several people with the patient, appoint one person as the spokesperson, therefore preventing everyone from yelling at once and irritating the ER technicians.

-Explain the patient's problem clearly, completely, and calmly. Don't omit information or lie, since doing so could compromise the patient's health.

-Have a list of the patient's allergies and current medications. Give a copy to the patient and to the admitting receptionist or nurse.

-Always be polite, but assertive. Yelling will only make the visit more stressful, but you don't need to let people use you as a doormat. Stand up for the patient's rights, since he or she will probably be unable to do so.

-If you are directed to wait, take the news calmly. Most emergency rooms see patients on a triage system, where the most serious cases are seen first. An admitting receptionist or nurse usually determines the severity of each case.

-If the patient's condition becomes worse while you are waiting, alert the admitting receptionist or nurse. You may be seen more quickly.

Seeing the patient

-Once the patient is admitted to the emergency room, be patient. An ER typically has several patients at a time, and the doctors work as fast as they can.

-Don't ask about the patient frequently, as this may be annoying to the ER employees. Use your best judgment about asking, and if you haven't heard anything for one or two hours, make a polite inquiry.

-If you are admitted to see the patient, stay out of the doctor's way, and only ask necessary questions. ER doctors are typically very busy, and don't have time for idle chitchat.

-When visiting the patient, use your best judgment as to the length of the visit. Staying too long may tire the patient, and annoy ER doctors, who may want you out of the way.

After seeing the patient

-Find out what caused the patient's problem, and how it can be prevented from happening again. What was done to solve the problem? Does the patient need to be admitted to the hospital? Why? For how long? If the patient can be sent home, will he or she need to modify his lifestyle? How? Does the patient need to be seen for a follow-up visit? Take notes if you think you will have trouble remembering this information.

-Also ask the doctor or the admitting receptionist or nurse how long it will be until the patient is admitted to the hospital or sent home. Do you have time to get something to eat? If so, do it. Food will help keep your energy level up, so you can be an advocate for the patient.

-If the patient needs follow-up care, offer to take him or her, and ask if there is anything else you can do.

Having a great ER visit can be easy with prior research and a calm, assertive manner. Visiting the ER is never fun, but by following the above tips, it can be a lot less horrible.

By Lori Tate

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