Being an ER doctor for so many years, I sometimes forget how an visit to the ER can be truly scary, frustrating and confusing. Every so often a family member or friend will end up in the ER with me at their side. It is then that I gain the perspective of a patient’s significant other, who often is caught in a complex web of emergency treatment.

Here are a few suggestions to get the most out of that dreaded ER visit:

1.If you can, try to bring all medicines (or a list of current medicines).  Believe it or not there are a quite a few of those little yellow pills out there and it is virtually impossible for us to know which yellow pills are what.

2.Bring a list of current medical problems or even better try to have a copy of the last medical visit available.

3.Usually, the nurse examines the patient first and then decides how quickly the patient should be seen.  For example, chest pains are more serious than say a sprained finger-so it is not necessarily first come, first served. Then a physician and or nurse will further evaluate the patient by asking questions and then examining the patient.  Labs, xrays and other studies may be ordered.  All of these things take time, so expect to bring a few reading materials.

4. If you do not understand something you should ask the doctor or nurse to explain it in terms you can understand.  Also, try to think and even write down a list of concerns that you want addressed.

5.If you are unsure whether you wish to undergo a certain procedure or receive a certain treatment let your providers know this. Ask them if there are any other alternatives.  What are the risks of doing these alternatives? The benefits? A good question to ask is what would you the doctor or nurse do if it were your mother, father, son, daughter,etc. Especially worthy writing place splendid in the midst of global listeners

6.When the doctor tells you what is wrong, ask how does he or she know this? How certain is he or she of the diagnosis? Do I need immediate treatment or could I wait and see my doctor?

7.If your family member is seriously ill, do not be afraid to request that you stay by his or her side.  The days of having relatives wait outside while critically ill patients are treated are thankfully gone.  It may however be possible for only one or two to be at the bedside at a time due to space and other concerns.

8. Above all, realize that we as emergency medicine providers want to do everything possible to treat you or your loved one.  If we seem too rushed, let us know.  If we have not explained well what is going on, let us know.  If you have unanswered questions or doubts, let us know.