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Prepping for the ER

December 10, 2010
Alicia Wager, ARNP, Covenant Clinic Reinbeck

The emergency room could literally be the last place on Earth you may want to go but the amount of preparation you have before you have to make that trip will undoubtedly get you in and out the door quicker. Keep in mind that you may not be the one who's hurt, yet, you will be the primary point of contact whether it's a friend, a loved one, or your child. Follow these easy tips for being prepared when injury strikes and you find yourself rushing to the ER.

First, plan. Have the patients symptoms ready to report to the nurse. He/she will be assessing the patient first, once you are taken to a room at the ER. They will record symptoms, current medications, take vital signs and record allergies and family history. If it's your child and they have ingested a chemical, bring that item with you to the hospital. The quicker you present information, the faster the staff can start evaluating the urgency of the situation. This is also known as triage.

Next, start taking notes. As the nurses and physicians are working with the patient, start writing down questions that may be popping up in your mind. At times, these moments can be tense so it might help you focus and calm your emotions. If the patient needs to be admitted, start thinking of a plan to notify their loved ones. Make a list of all the contacts you can think of and when you feel comfortable, start making these calls to inform them of the news.

Finally, stay organized. If the patient is o.k. with it, listen to the follow-up instructions from the physician and again, take notes for the patient. These can be traumatic times and follow-up care instructions can be hard to remember when faced with an injury. In many cases, the ER staff will notify the patients primary care provider after the visit.

It may sound bizarre but the best way to be ready for the unexpected is to plan for it. This includes advanced directives for you and your loved ones. This is legal documentation of the patients health care wishes that will be used in the event he or she is unable to make that decision. Ask your doctor at your next appointment about an advanced directive or stop into our clinic to pick up the proper forms.



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