Going to the Emergency Room is never fun. If your condition isn't life threatening you may have to wait, and waiting is hard, especially if you're not comfortable. To make an ER visit more productive and bearable, here are seven things ER doctors want you to know:
We're Working as Fast as We Can
Unless your emergency is life threatening, the chances are that you're going to have to take a seat in the waiting area. We understand this is hard to do, especially if you're suffering from a case of food poisoning or the latest respiratory woe. However, while you're waiting, you can be sure emergency department staff are working hard caring for the patients already admitted. These tasks can take some time, but if you had a severe emergency, you'd be very glad we practiced triage.
Honesty is Always the Best Policy When It Comes to Medical Care
Yes, we do ask a lot of questions in the emergency department. In our line of work, it's a necessity. We're asking these questions so we can provide you with the best level of care possible. Even if an aspect of your care involves something embarrassing or illegal, it's best to come clean and let us know. Chances are you aren't telling us anything we haven't heard before. Really, there's no judgment here.
Knowing Your Own Medical History Can Help Us Help You
A patient who keeps up with their medical history and has copies of current medication lists and test results is doing themselves a huge favor. Just because we're doctors doesn't mean we know everything about you and your healthcare needs. Knowing your medical history helps us make potentially life-saving decisions regarding your care.
You Should Know What Medicines You're Taking & Why You're Taking Them
It's vitally important to understand the medicines you take and why you take them. You should also know the exact dosage and any potential side effects. Have copies on of medication lists on hand in case of emergency. Not knowing this information can cause delays in treatment. You must be an active participant in your healthcare.
Sometimes Eliminating All Pain Isn't a Realistic Option
Pain is actually a safety mechanism that warns you when something isn't right. If you burn your hand on the stove, your hand will hurt. However, pain isn't life threatening. Sometimes it's not possible or practical to eliminate all pain. While we do what we can to help you stay comfortable, some conditions and procedures are inherently painful.
Searching for Your Symptoms on the Internet isn't Always Accurate
If Google were accurate enough to replace your doctor, no one would spend years in school getting a medical degree. Search engines and social media cannot replace your doctor's knowledge. In fact, some information you find online can be downright dangerous. However, if you must research medical information on the internet, look for sites with .edu or .gov extensions, and sites of reputable medical facilities.
Antibiotics Can't Fight the Common Cold, Acute Bronchitis, or Other Viruses
We get lots of patients coming into the ER, especially during the winter months, hoping to get antibiotics to help them fend off infections. The trouble is antibiotics don't treat these illnesses and can be harmful, especially if used unnecessarily. If you aren't having shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or a high fever that won't go away, it will probably resolve itself within 7-10 days. If it doesn't, that's when you should make an appointment with your doctor.
ER doctors are committed to providing the best care possible in emergency situations. Following these basic guidelines can help them do that. Remember, being knowledgeable about your health is an important step in making sure you receive the best care possible.