The Number of Americans Using the Emergency Room is Huge
In the mid 2000's, it is estimated that 119 million people went to the emergency room every year. Unfortunately, with skyrocketing insurance premiums and the inability for many to afford health care, the numbers are likely to continue. For lots of people, going to the emergency room can be an unpleasant experience or a very scary one. They expect to wait for hours to see a doctor.
For those who have suffered a life threatening problem like a heart attack, stroke, or trauma, they may not have the presence of mind to be able to communicate effectively with the emergency room staff. Information that is given to an emergency room doctor or nurse is extremely important so that you receive the best care.
Think about it-how many patients does an emergency room doctor see during a shift? Lots. How many different stories do they hear? Lots. How much time do you get with the doctor? Not a lot. The information you give about what is wrong with you (which doctors call a history) is probably the most important part of an evaluation. So how can you help yourself?
Tips on what to say and do when in the emergency room
- Try to have the best communicator (friend or family) take the lead and tell the story. Too many people talking at once is confusing.
- Be specific about describing your symptoms. For example when describing pain use words like stabbing or sharp rather than just saying it hurts. Often times your description can be important in helping the doctor identify serious conditions.
- Ask questions! This may sound simple but many people get intimidated when a doctor uses medical terms to tell you what is wrong. Sometimes doctors don't even realize they are doing it. Ask the doctor to explain it to you so you understand.
- You know your body. If something doesn't feel right tell the doctor. If for example you have leg pain that has been going on for awhile tell the doctor–don't just assume it's a pulled muscle. Leg pain can sometimes be a sign of a more serious condition like a blood clot which can lead to a pulmonary embolism.
- Understand your diagnosis before you leave and ask the doctor how he or she arrived at the diagnosis.
If you have any questions or wish to talk with us about a medical malpractice case concerning care in the emergency room please call Frank Spector Law toll free at 1-800-299-HURT. You can also fill out the contact form on this page or send us an email at [email protected].