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Understanding the ER

By September 16, 2019 No Comments

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Understanding the ER

In an emergency, knowing what to expect from your local ER can help you make the best of a difficult situation.

If you or a loved one experience heart attack or stroke symptoms, don’t drive to the hospital. Call 911 so that diagnostic testing and treatment can begin en route to the hospital.

ER doctors see patients with the most serious medical emergencies first. To find out whether you need to go to the front of the line, you will go through a process called triage.

During triage, a medical professional will get a brief history of the event or symptoms that brought you to the ER. He or she will check your heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, breathing and other health indicators. If you are transported to the hospital by emergency medical services, they may perform triage on the way to the hospital.

People who need urgent intervention are seen to right away. If you are not in immediate danger, you may be asked to wait for the next open room and fill out a registration form.

Once you are moved to a room, doctors and other medical professionals will gather more information and work to diagnose the problem. That may include taking blood to be tested, having X-rays or other diagnostic images taken, and receiving other appropriate medical tests. Depending on your condition, you may be treated in the ER, admitted for additional care or referred for follow-up care.

When you leave the emergency room (ER) and head home, you will receive instructions about what to do next. This may include taking a new medication or following up with a primary care doctor or specialist at a certain time. Be sure that you or someone with you writes down the steps the ER team recommends.

Fill new prescriptions as soon as possible. Ask the pharmacist any questions you have about these medications, including whether or not they interact with any medications you are already taking.

The ER team will tell you how to care for casts and when they can come off. Be sure to keep any new stitches dry for 24 hours; afterward, use mild soap and water to clean them.

If emergency symptoms return or get worse, you may need to visit the ER again.