Plan for It: Your ER Visit Prep Guide
Emergencies can be frightening, and it’s natural to panic in the face of an unknown situation. Preparing for emergencies before they occur can give you peace of mind and foresight to take the next steps toward getting the care you need.
Before You’re in an Emergency Situation
Here are some helpful things you can do today to be ready for a future trip to the emergency room.
- Have a “go bag.” Pack a clean set of clothing, available medical records, lists of medications, and insurance information in a set space, so if you have to rush off to the hospital, you can just grab it and go.
- Know where to go. Find your closest emergency room and have the name and directions printed out and stored with your “go bag.” Make sure the facility accepts your insurance and offers the services you may need, especially if you have certain medical conditions. For example, if you have an increased risk of stroke, you might consider choosing a facility that’s a designated Comprehensive Stroke Center.
- Save emergency contacts in your phone. If you are in an emergency situation and can’t communicate, emergency care providers can check your phone for contacts labeled “ICE” (In Case of Emergency). Use this label to designate the best person to contact should an emergency occur. You can also specify emergency contacts in your Medical ID.
When You’re On the Way to the ER
Utilize the transportation time to the best of your ability, and perform—or have someone else perform—these tasks to make your trip go a little smoother.
- Check in online. If this is an option at your chosen emergency center, checking in online can reduce your wait time. Of course, keep in mind that your wait time depends on the urgency of your condition and the arrival of other patients who may need more timely care. See if your nearest CHI St. Luke’s Health emergency room offers online check-in.
- Alert your primary care physician. Call your primary care physician and tell him or her why you are going to the emergency room. Your PCP can remind you of certain parts of your medical history that you should share with the emergency staff. He or she might call the ER before your arrival to provide this or additional information as well as schedule a follow-up appointment for ongoing care.
- Make arrangements. Try to reschedule or have someone take care of all necessary responsibilities in case your trip to the emergency room lasts longer than you initially expect. For example, if you planned to pick up your children from school on the day an emergency occurs, call and have a relative or friend pick them up.
These tips can save valuable time during an emergency. No matter what kind of medical problem you may face, the teams at CHI St. Luke’s Health emergency rooms have the skills and resources to provide the proper care and ease your concerns.
U.S. News & World Report | Enduring Really Long Waits at the Emergency Room
SELF Magazine | 6 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Emergency Room Visit, From an ER Doctor
AARP | Preparing for a Trip to the Emergency Room