By- Dr. Anthony Ng
Emergency rooms are great community resources to help provide medical care to anyone in crisis. However, emergency rooms have now become a crisis in itself as many emergency rooms around the country are inundated with patients. There are a variety of reasons to why emergency rooms are getting busier. They may include a lack of community health resources for people to get care in a timely manner or there are insufficient inpatient beds for patients who need hospitalization, just to name a few. As a result of emergency rooms getting busy, people are waiting longer to be seen. Some people even leave the emergency room before they are actually seen due to the long wait. For some others, they don't even bother going to emergency room at all when they are really sick because of concerns of long wait in the emergency room, as well as to how they will pay for the visit.
As chaotic and stressful an emergency room visit may be, there will be times when a visit to the emergency room is necessary. However, there are few things one can do to make the visit less stressful so that one can get the care they need. The most important time to prepare for any emergency room visit is actually before the emergency happens, especially for individuals with illnesses. If one has an illness, whether it is an acute or chronic condition, one should discuss with the health providers to what conditions would necessitate a visit to the emergency room and what can be handled by contacting the health care provider directly. An alternative to emergency room is walk in center or urgent care centers which many hospitals offer for less emergent medical concerns.
One should ensure that they have enough medications for their medical condition. A trip to the emergency room is not necessary to obtain medication refills. These can be obtained by contacting your regular health providers ahead of you running out of the medication.
Also, before you go to the emergency room, you should prepare an updated list of contact information of your regular health providers, emergency contacts, allergies, past and current medical conditions and current medications that can be easily produced for the emergency room provider. This will help ensure they are fully aware of your current health status. You can also keep a copy of this information in your wallet or purse so it is readily available. You should also check with your health insurance carrier to your financial responsibilities such as copayment for emergency room visits. Often many patients learned too late after an emergency room visit that their insurance plan did not fully cover the visit and they incur additional stress trying to figure out how to pay for their visit.
Understanding what happens to you when you visit an emergency room can help lessen some of the stress of a visit. While you are in the emergency room, you may be asked multiple questions by different staff members. While the questions may seem redundant and frustrating to you, the questions are meant to get as accurate information as possible about your emergent health needs so you can get the best help. This information also is important to help the emergency room staff determine the priority of patients to be seen. As there are limited resources in the emergency room, sometimes health providers there must see the sickest first. For example, someone with a heart attack or a major trauma will require more emergent response than someone with a less severe medical condition. This is why sometimes one may experience that another patient who arrived after you may be seen before you. Lastly, it is important that you allow communication between the emergency room health provider and your regular health provider to ensure good coordination of your care, not only at the time of the emergency room visit but also in regards to your follow up care with your regular health provider.
A visit to the emergency room can be extremely stressful to a person. With some important steps that you can take and some awareness, you can help lessen the stress and your experience to ensure that you get the best health care during your emergency room visit.
TV5 Forecast Center
Healthy Living: Painless Visit to Emergency Rooms
By- Dr. Anthony Ng
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