Charmaine Leoni, RN, is the nursing director for the Emergency department at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz.
Question: I recently suffered health problems and had to go to the Emergency Room. My family and I were unprepared and didn’t know quite what to bring. What can we do now to make sure we’re as prepared as possible for next time?
Answer: A visit to the Emergency Room doesn’t have to be stressful or frightening. With the right information, you can reduce anxiety and have a positive experience. Here are some guidelines to help you prepare for your visit to the ER:
- Create a folder with the following information: your current medications and dosage; allergies; your doctor’s contact information; emergency contact info; past medical history; Advanced Health Care Directives (if you have them); insurance information; and a neighbor’s phone number if you need them to take care of your animals or make phone calls for you.
- Create your own Banner Medication Form
- Keep this folder readily accessible and take it with you if you ever have to go to the ER. Put a note on your refrigerator with the location of this folder for paramedics, in case your condition prevents you from getting it.
- It’s always nice to have something to occupy your mind and fill the time while waiting for test results, consider packing reading materials or music on headphones or puzzle books. Be prepared to send personal items and anything of value home if you are admitted to the hospital.
- Ask a friend or loved one to go with you. If you can't, ask emergency personnel to phone someone on your behalf - a relative, neighbor or friend. Spending time in the emergency room can be overwhelming, and it's difficult to pay attention, especially if you are in pain. Having someone by your side to advocate on your behalf can reduce your stress and calm your nerves.
- When a doctor or nurse tells you something or asks you a question that you do not understand, make sure you ask them to clarify what they are saying. Also, if health care professionals are doing something that you want to know more about, just ask. We’re here to help and educate you about your health.
Reviewed June 2010