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Medical Care

Managing the ER Visit

Most visits to the emergency room are unexpected and frightening. In circumstances like these, it’s important to keep your focus on what will help you or your loved one most. Health care workers, often overwhelmed by the number of patients they need to treat, may not ask every question they should. Here, from the experts at SeniorHealth, a division of the National Institutes of Health, tell you what you should be prepared to ask when you or a loved one are getting care in the ER:

A visit to the ER may go more smoothly if you can take along a patient’s health insurance card or policy number; a list of medications; a list of health problems; and the name and phone number of a doctor and one or two family members or friends.

Some people find it helpful to have this information with them at all times.

Depending on the problem, you may have a long wait in the emergency room. Consider taking things to make the wait more comfortable, such as something to read and a sweater in case the room is cold.

During your ER visit, ask questions if you do not know what a doctor or other medical staff is doing, such as what medical tests are being done. Make sure you understand what the ER doctor tells you about your health, or ask him or her to write it down.

Also, make sure you know if there is anything special you need to do after you go home from the ER. For example, if you have a bandage, find out when and how to change it. Tell your regular doctor(s) as soon as possible about your visit to the ER.

Here are some questions you may want to ask medical staff in the ER.

What medical tests are being done and why?

Will you talk to my regular doctor about my care?

Do I need to make special doctor visits for my health problem?

Can you write down what I need to do to care for my health problem?

Is there someone who speaks my language and can explain what I need to do for my health problem? (If you speak a different language.)

For more information, click here to visit the SeniorHealth website.