I guess most people have been to the Emergency Department of a hospital, either as a patient or accompanying one. Maybe you’ve been fortunate enough to never have visited one, but you’ve heard stories from friends and loved ones who have. The crowded waiting room, the long wait, the brief visits by medical professionals, more waiting – it can all be pretty depressing and frustrating for the patient. Do you ever wonder what it’s like for the medical professionals in the ER? I’d like to share some articles from the perspective of the emergency physician that I found interesting.
Dr. Leana Wen, author of When Doctor’s Don’t Listen, wrote these first two articles:
- The 10 Types of ER Patients: If you fall into one of these categories, here’s how to improve your care
What I liked about this particular article is the insight into what it’s like in the ER from a doctor’s perspective. Some of the suggestions were similar to those for doctors visits, such as carrying a list of your medications with you and having someone come accompany you so they can help you to remember what you want to say, as well as remember what the doctors recommend. It also highlighted the importance telling our stories to the doctors (instead of just listing symptoms) so they can determine the level of care required.
- When Facts Are Scarce, ER Doctor Turns Detective To Decide On Care
This article tells the story of an older gentleman who is brought into the ER after he fell. He’s confused and there is no one with him who knows him. The information he gives the doctors isn’t correct and this makes it harder for them to help him. It emphasizes the point in the article above about carrying an up to date list of medications with you, as well as current contact info for family or friends who can assist you and the doctors to help you get the best care.
This next article was written by Pauline Chen, M.D. and published in the New York Times – Emergency Rooms Are No Place for the Elderly
Dr. Chen discusses why emergency rooms aren’t elderly-friendly but has some good news about how some medical professionals are working to improve the environment and the care. What I thought was most notable was that “social factors” are also being considered. These include how patients will manage after discharge; for instance, how they will be able to move around their homes and assure that they take their medications correctly. I’ve heard so many stories from friends who, when they were discharged from hospital, were concerned about how they would cope once they were home on their own again. It’s good to hear that there are hospitals where older folk can receive help for their concerns before they’re discharged.
Patients are people, too!
Deciding whether to go to the ER or consult with your doctor isn’t always an obvious decision. For example, is the pain in your chest a heart attack or heartburn? How we tell our stories about how we’re feeling can really make a difference in the care receive because doctors are people, too! And they use the clues we give them to determine the tests and treatment we need.