Over 145 million people make a trip to the emergency room every year.
Many need help with serious injuries and wounds, others go to the ER for immediate medical attention due to illness, and still more accompany parents, spouses, children, or other friends/family members when they need emergency medical attention.
Of course, you can never fully “prepare” for an unexpected emergency, whether it happens to you or someone else.
However, knowing what your ER visit might be like, what documents and medications you should bring with you, and what happens in the waiting room before an emergency happens can help you to stay focused in a stressful moment.
Plus, if your health condition isn’t life-threatening or critical, you can even take a quick moment to read this post before you head to the emergency room. This way, you’ll be prepared for what might turn into a longer stay.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to prepare for the ER.
Make Sure You Need to Go to the ER
Before we get into any more detail about how to prepare for emergencies that require a trip to the ER, let’s discuss the kinds of situations that truly warrant a visit.
“If you have a preexisting medical condition, you can identify symptoms when a trip to the ER becomes necessary.”
If you have a preexisting medical condition, then you’re likely already familiar with the symptoms that make a trip to the ER necessary.
For example, if you’re a diabetic and have a current blood sugar level over 400mg, you definitely need emergency attention. The same goes if you’re a hemophiliac and you’ve suffered from any kind of physical trauma/hard impact.
But if you don’t have any major health problems currently, it can be a bit tougher to know when to go to the emergency room.
In general, you should likely go into the ER if you have:
- Sudden chest pain (especially on the left side)
- Trouble breathing/shortness of breath
- Swelling/hives due to an allergic reaction
- Slurred speech
- Symptoms of appendicitis
- A persistent high fever
- A broken bone/an open wound
- Sudden paralysis
- Confusion and sudden change in mental state
- Head trauma
These symptoms are incredibly serious and could signal many different life-threatening illnesses or injuries. So, don’t waste your time on urgent care — you can’t afford to.
Go to the hospital emergency room instead to get the best possible treatment.
Basic Emergency Preparedness
Above all, don’t hesitate or delay making an emergency room visit, as symptoms could become worse or even life-threatening.
Whether you’re taking yourself or someone else to the ER, you’ll need:
- 2 sets of clothing
- List of current medications and allergies
- A knowledge of their/your own medical history
- Health insurance cards (with 1 copy)
- Any medical records you may have
- Comfort items (books, family photo, prayer book, etc.)
What if you haven’t yet had a medical emergency, but still want to be prepared?
Make sure you know where the nearest emergency rooms to both your home and office are, and the fastest route to get to them. If you’re taking care of an elder, make sure you put “in case of emergency” contacts into their phone.
You may also want to give elders a business card with their medical history/medications printed on it. That way, they can simply hand that card over to the medical team.
Depending on the seriousness of your emergency, you may be able to have a friend drive you to the ER or you may require an ambulance.
If at all possible, avoid driving yourself. If you have to, take a car service or cab.
Once you get there, look for the registration desk and waiting areas. Yes, there may be a lot of people there waiting already, especially if it’s before 9:00 AM or after 5:00 PM.
Remember that people are often seen according to the severity of their emergency conditions and that the staff gives hundreds of people the help they need in a timely manner every day.
“People in ERs are often seen according to the severity of their emergency conditions.”
If your condition isn’t critical, you should expect to wait a while. The good news is that, on average, the wait time in the ER is only about 24 minutes long.
You’ll have plenty of time to fill out forms, and the registrar will ask you some basic questions about your overall health and why you’ve come to the ER.
When you’re in the treatment room, you’ll meet with an RN who writes down detailed information about your symptoms and complaints, takes your vital signs, and ranks the severity of your problems.
Depending on what brought you to the ER, you may receive treatment from a variety of medical professionals.
Some patients can be treated by a nurse practitioner, while others need an emergency medical doctor or a physician’s assistant. You’ll also be assigned a team of registered nurses and staff members that are there to help you.
Next, the evaluation and the development of your individualized care plan begins.
You may need to be monitored, tested, or given medication. Some of the most common emergency room tests are MRIs, X-rays, ultrasounds, EKGs, labs, and cat scans.
In extreme cases, you will need to go immediately into surgery.
Depending on what kind of treatment you need, you may be transported to another unit within the hospital. You may also need to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time after your treatment is finished.
The good news is that the majority of patients can return home after they’ve received immediate medical attention.
Finally, your medical team will talk to you about your follow-up care plan.
You may need to come back for more visits in the following weeks, take medication, learn how to care for a wound, or return for more testing.
Taking Children to the Emergency Room
If your child needs to go to the emergency room, you need to take extra steps to prepare.
Visiting the ER is frightening and confusing for children, and planning ahead will make the process more tolerable for everyone. Whenever your child makes their regular pediatrician visits, ask the doctor for potential signs of trouble you should watch out for.
Common pediatric emergencies often include poisoning, broken bones/injury, burns, and infections.
Other emergencies include if your child is having trouble breathing, can’t break their fever of 102 degrees within 48 hours, has a seizure, or has extreme abdominal pain.
“If the child swallowed poison, make sure to bring the bottle of it with you.”
You’ll also need copies of any medical records you may keep at home, and any medication your child takes. It may seem odd, but especially if your child has severe swelling, rashes, or bruising, you may want to bring a recent photo of them to the ER (though we’re sure you have several hundred on your phone already).
What Else Should You Do?
Make sure you pack blankets for both yourself and your child, along with a change of clothes for each of you. Toss in your phone charger, a laptop with its charger if needed, and a toothbrush.
Your goal while your child is in the ER waiting room is to distract them and keep them occupied. Bring any favorite toys, books, coloring supplies, and even snacks with you (or have a friend meet you at the ER with these items.)
Above all, you as the parent must do everything you can to stay calm. Write down what you need to tell the doctors, and act as you normally would around your child to prevent them from feeling anxious.
You’re Prepared for a Visit to the Emergency Room
So, what’s the best emergency room to go to in your area? If you live in or around the Deer Park, Texas area, our incredible emergency care team can help you.
Even better, you can use our online portal to immediately check into the ER, reducing your wait time and giving valuable information to the team.
We can also help treat a variety of emergency medical conditions, including burns, pneumonia, allergic reactions, dehydration, chest pain, and much more.
No matter the kind of emergency testing and care you might need, we make sure you can get it all in one place.
Add our phone number and location to your phone, address book, and also give our information to the people you care about.
Find the Best Emergency Room at CH1ER
The next time you need to visit an emergency room, we’ll be there to give you the level of care you deserve. If you need immediate assistance, use our online forms to begin your check-in procedure. Call at (346) 248-7081 to know more.
How to Prepare For a Visit to the ER (Emergency Room) | Community Health 1st ER – Deer Park, TX