Thursday Health Thoughts: Surviving an ER Visit

September 19, 2013

{Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.}
As I mentioned to y'all last month when I shared about creating an emergency room bag  I wanted to suggest a couple of things that can help you "survive an Emergency Room visit" *smiles*. These tips are in no particular order but I hope that they will bring you some help for those unexpected and unwanted trips. 

(1) When you arrive at the ER make sure to clearly and specifically state what the symptoms are that you are dealing with. If you can't breathe- make sure that you state that immediately. 

(2) If you don't feel that you are being listened to by the check-in nurse and if you feel that you need more attention then ask for the charge nurse. If you still do not have the attention that you feel that the situation needs feel free to ask for the head of the ER nurse or a patient advocate. 

(3) Don't shout at anyone- be calm but be persistent in a respectful way.

(4) Remember the reality that ER visits are meant to be for serious issues and life-threatening emergencies. If you don't fit into either category you probably will not be seen for several hours. 

(5) Before taking a medicine double check that they are aware of your allergies. It is not uncommon to see several different nurses or doctors in one visit. Some information- especially important information- can sometimes be lost in translation.

(6)If you notice that someone is not washing their hands when they come into your room gently remind them to do so. (You don't want to go into the ER with a broken arm and come out with the flu.)

(7) Ask questions.

(8) Don't be afraid to speak up for your needs. Waiting is appropriate but if your loved one is very sick and you need attention don't be afraid to ask for a nurse to come help.

(9) If you are going to drive yourself (or have someone drive you) and you are not going to come by ambulance consider calling your doctor to alert the ER that you are coming (if it is a serious situation). 

(10)If you can try to go early. One statistic stated that most ER's are busiest at 7pm.

(11) Make sure to ask if you can go to the bathroom or eat something. Certain tests are compromised by eating.

(12) If you are not comfortable with your doctor request a specialist or a more senior ER doctor. You have the right to do so and if it is necessary use this right!

And finally... 

(13) "The American College of Emergency Physicians says that sometimes a patient will come in with mild symptoms, and while they are waiting, their medical condition worsens.  It's very important for emergency patients in waiting rooms to notify the triage nurse if they are in pain or if they start to feel worse.  If they are still concerned, they should ask to speak to an emergency physician or a patient advocate.  People should not leave the emergency department without being seen."


  1. This is great information. I have done a few of them at severe visits to the ER. I did fail at number 3 before when I was in severe pain it was not my proudest moment. That was year ago definitely working on being more patient even in emergency situations.

  2. Great points, girl! I agree with all of them. :)

  3. This is such a helpful list! A few years back I was bitten by a spider and the venom began running rampantly through my body. I totally failed at number 1 and 2. I wasn't specific about my symptoms nor did I ensure that the nurse was listening fully to me. I ended up waiting a long time to be seen and was in critical condition by the time I was. Thank you for these reminders. While none of us plan to need to use this list, it is so important to be prepared in the instance that we do. Thank you sweet girl for using your experiences to encourage others :)