Helpful Tips for Your Emergency Department Visit

  • Provide support and comfort to the patient as best you can. This might mean asking for a blanket, or just talking to your family member.
  • Trust your judgment. Tell the Emergency Department staff if you think that something is wrong or not going as well as it should. Be polite, but clear and firm, about any problems.
  • Speak up on behalf of your family member. Tell the Emergency Department staff all they need to know to care for your family member. This includes how to contact your family member's primary care doctor.
  • Speak clearly and use a neutral or friendly (not angry) tone of voice. Make sure to listen as well as talk.
  • Stay calm. Our Emergency Department staff knows how hard this can be. The best way you can help is by calmly speaking up for your family member's needs. Ask to speak with the doctor, nurse, social worker, or patient representative if you think your family member is not being treated fairly or with enough respect.
  • Do not leave your family member alone. You or someone else should stay with your family member until the Emergency Department staff decides on a treatment plan. Staff may limit this to just one person, or they may ask you to leave if the ER is very crowded, or if they need to perform a procedure. You can still wait in the waiting room. Ask when and how you should come back in.
  • Tell the staff if your family member is confused, or frightened, or has dementia or Alzheimer's disease. If so, it is extra important that you stay in the ER with your family member. Tell the staff if your family member is hard of hearing, or is nearsighted.
  • Tell the Emergency Department staff if your family member speaks a language other than English, and if they would feel more comfortable communicating in that language.
  • Write down important information. This includes your questions as well as what the staff says about discharge and medications. It also helps to take notes when the staff gives updates about your family member's health.
  • Stay focused. You are in the ER because your family member needs medical care. Stay focused on what he or she needs, not other events going on in the busy ER.

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