7 tips for getting in and out of emergency room quickly

Ask the Expert

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) — Summer is trauma season, when hospitals tend to see a rise in emergency room visits. There are 145 million visits to the emergency room per year in America and over a third of those are injury related, according to the CDC.

Medical Director of Emergency Services Dr. Ryan Hoffman at Bon Secours St. Francis has 7 tips to make your visit smoother.

1. Have a plan

“People should plan it out a little bit,” Dr. Hoffman says. “They should have an idea of what hospital they would go to… what resources are available at the different hospitals. You don’t want to show up at a hospital about to deliver a baby that doesn’t deliver babies.”

2. Bring a contact list
“Have all your information with you – family members’ names and phone numbers,” he says. This is especially helpful when traveling in case of an emergency. “I would also recommend a paper copy. Phones get broken. Batteries go dead.”

3. Bring medical information

“Have all your drugs, doctors and diseases available to you, whether that’s on a piece of paper, electronically or both,” Dr. Hoffman says.

Bon Secours St. Francis uses a system called Epic for electronic medical records, which patients can access with a personal code on their phones through an app called MyChart. Dr. Hoffman recommends referring to that to keep up with your medical history for ease, but still says bringing a paper copy is best in case your phone dies.

4. Write down questions
“Have questions ready,” Dr. Hoffman says. “At the end of your visit, when your doctor asks if you have any questions, rather than saying ‘Oh no’ and they leave, and two minutes later you think of all these questions you wish you would have asked.”

He says having a story of why you are in the emergency room coupled with related health questions and concerns will yield better results. “Rather than just saying you have a headache, telling us that you had a family member with a bad headache who just had a stroke gives us more information. Tell us what you’re really worried about.”

He also suggests thinking of questions while in the waiting room.

5. Come with realistic expectations

Dr. Hoffman says emergency room staff is focused on providing immediate treatment, but cautions that staff may not have the resources or ability to deeply investigate the root of the issue or bump up your future scheduled surgeries, MRI’s or other procedures.

“In the emergency room, we’re not about finding out the cause necessarily,” he says. “We want to make sure it’s not a series of bad things that we’re thinking about and then we’re going to refer you back out to a primary care physician or specialist.”

6. Come with a friend
Dr. Hoffman says bringing a friend or family member to the emergency room with you is one most important tips.

A second set of eyes and pair of ears can help when explaining to staff the source of your health issue as well as remembering what they told you regarding treatment, since pain can make listening and remembering more difficult.

“Bring someone that can advocate for you… or when you do go home can help you remember what we told you.”

7. Bring a distraction

“In the emergency room there’s a lot of waiting,” Dr. Hoffman says. “Bring something to distract you from your pain like a book.”

Bon Secours St. Francis offers Wi-Fi in emergency room waiting rooms so patients can watch a TV show or movie on their computers or tablets.

Dr. Hoffman says it’s best to come to the emergency room for severe pains or injuries, but an urgent care center is quicker alternative for sprains, cuts or minor health issues.

To hear more from experts at Bon Secours on this health topic and others, listen every Saturday morning at 10am on 106.3 WORD radio.  

To submit your questions for our series, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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