Preparing for the Unexpected: A Trip to the Emergency Room

A normal day can be quickly turned around when it involves a trip to the emergency room. In those dreaded moments, the last thing on your mind is what to bring for yourself or a loved one. Taking a little time to prepare can be vital for a quick recovery and can help make the process a little less stressful for everyone.

Essentials for Diagnosis and Treatment

There isn’t always time to prepare before running out of the door to the ER. Keeping a folder handy with updated medical information can be helpful to doctors as they put together the history needed to diagnose and treat their patient. Some items to include are:

  • List of current medications and dosages (or the actual medication containers themselves), including over-the-counter medications and supplements (as their use can interfere with the effectiveness of other drugs)
     
  • Notes of known allergies and reactions to medications
     
  • Recent test results or information pertaining to recent diagnosis’ or any chronic conditions
     
  • Immunization records (all immunization records including date of last tetanus, flu, and pneumonia shots, as applicable)
     
  • Name and phone number of the primary care physician or of any specialists recently seen
     
  • Other pertinent healthcare paperwork, like advance directives, healthcare proxy, or a Do Not Resuscitate order (DNR)                                                               

The doctor might also be interested in knowing other past medical history related to the cause of the visit to the ER, like whether anything has been done to treat the condition and if things have gotten better or worse.  If the patient has had major surgery, especially in the areas of the chest or abdomen, it’s good to take note of those procedures as well since they might affect critical decisions the doctor has to make when giving proper treatment.

Also, try to remember eyeglasses and hearing aids so that communication with hospital staff is mutually understood.

Your Support System

While hospital staff will always do their best to comfort you or your loved one, the emergency room can be an intimidating and unfamiliar place in a time of medical uncertainty. Having a trusted person around who is familiar with the patient’s health issues can be comforting and help provide the doctor with more details about the reason for the visit to the ER. 

Comfort Keepers

In a true emergency, these items can be picked up later and brought to the hospital by a loved one. Try to keep the amount of extra items to a minimum to avoid clutter and confusion for hospital staff.

  • Cell phone chargers
     
  • Books or magazines for entertainment between tests or procedures
     
  • For those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who have difficulties getting accustomed to new environments, bring: music (with headphones), or a favorite blanket from home
     
  • For kids, a favorite toy can help with comfort and distraction. Depending on the unit, if the child is admitted, stuffed animals may be prohibited for infection control purposes

Be sure to leave valuables with loved ones (or at home, if possible) so that they are not lost.

The Registration Process

Once the urgency of the medical emergency has been assessed and the patient’s condition has been stabilized, he or she will go through the registration process. Essential documents needed for registration or treatment in the emergency room include:

  • Photo ID, such as a driver’s license, state ID, or passport (or the ID of an adult accompanying an underage patient)
     
  • Insurance card
     
  • Social Security number

Home, ER and Home Again

Whether or not it’s safe to drive to the emergency room can be hard decision to make. If you have any doubt, it’s always safer to call 9-1-1.

HCA Midwest Health has 10 emergency rooms conveniently found throughout the Kansas City area, so there is always a location close to where you live, work or play.

We also offer the shortest ER wait times in the Kansas City area and are consistently faster than local and national averages. For average ER wait times near you, text ER to 23000.

Fast care when you need it most.

See Average ER Wait Times