Welcome to the Emergency Room at Indian River Medical Center. We understand the ER can be a stressful and unfamiliar place, especially when you are in pain or concerned about your health or your loved one’s health. The following is to help you understand how the ER works and to hopefully make your visit as comfortable as possible.
Triage means “to sort.” All patients are triaged regardless of why or how they come to the ER. A registered nurse evaluates each patient in the waiting room or at bedside and assesses the medical urgency. For example, someone with a life-threatening condition will need to be seen before someone with a broken arm or other problem that does not immediately threaten his or her life. Please understand that this is the reason if the triage nurse takes another patient in front of you. It’s a good idea to bring a medical history form or wallet card, so you can quickly provide information.
Once you are in an examination area, an emergency physician or mid-level clinician will examine you, monitor your vital signs and possibly order tests (e.g., X-ray, blood, electrocardiogram). For certain tests, you may need to avoid eating or drinking. Nurses and other medical professionals also will assist you during your visit.
If you are critically ill or require constant intravenous medications or fluids, you may be admitted to the hospital. Otherwise, an emergency physician will discuss your diagnosis and treatment plan with you before you are discharged. You also may receive written instructions regarding medications, medical restrictions or symptoms to watch out for that could require a return visit. In addition, you may be instructed to follow up with a family doctor.
If you need to be treated right away, you will be assigned a bed in the treatment area. If you don’t need to be treated right away, and the ER is busy, you may be directed to a registration area where you will be asked for basic information, such as your name, age, address, and the name of your health insurance company. Your copayment and/or deductible will be collected during your visit. If you have no insurance, financial assistance is available for those who qualify.
The more you know about the care you receive in the ER, the happier—and probably healthier—you’ll be when you leave. Here are things you should know:
The Emergency Room is not for routine care
Many patients come in asking for a colonoscopy, flu shots and even physicals. That is not what the ER is for—the ER is for acute care on an emergency basis. If you ask for routine care, you’ll be referred to a primary care physician.
Treatment is not first-come, first-served
A ruptured spleen, for example, is a life-or-death situation, and sometimes everybody must be put on such a case to save the patient’s life. Although a broken toe absolutely hurts, it probably won’t kill you. That’s why as patients come into the ER, the ones who need care most urgently receive it first — their lives hang in the balance. Just know that your wait time might be helping ER staff save a life.
Be specific about why you’re at the Emergency Room
It might be true to say that you’re weak and dizzy, but hundreds of illnesses are associated with weakness and dizziness. What the emergency physician needs is concrete, specific information, such as, “I’m dizzy when I walk up stairs and my chest hurts.”
Only the tests you need will be ordered
In emergency medicine, minutes count. That’s why the emergency physician will order only the tests that are required to diagnose your illness right now.
You might need another specialist
Sometimes emergency physicians need to call on other specialists. Some patients need help from a surgeon or a cardiologist, for example. Emergency physicians are proactive about calling in the help they need to treat you.
You might not be given a prescription
If your treatment requires a prescription, you’ll be given one—but not every illness does (antibiotics do nothing for the flu, for example). When long-term pain management is an issue, make an appointment to discuss your options with your primary care physician.
Post-Emergency Room care matters
In the ER you’re put on the road to recovery, but additional care is often necessary. Before you’re discharged, your emergency physician will talk to you about your diagnosis, treatment plan and required follow up care. You might also be given written instructions about medications, activity restrictions and symptoms that require a return visit. And always follow up with physicians you’re instructed to see.
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