5 things your ER team wants you to know

September 02, 2021 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

No one wants to visit an emergency room (ER) or have to deal with an urgent medical need.

Each day, however, Edward-Elmhurst Health treats hundreds of patients in the Emergency Departments at Edward and Elmhurst Hospitals, and a freestanding emergency center in Plainfield. In the course of a year, our three ERs treat more than 193,000 patients.

Ellen Turnbull, Systems Director, Emergency Services at Edward-Elmhurst Health, offers advice for those dealing with urgent medical needs and a trip to the ER:

  1. When in doubt, make the trip. “If there’s ever a question, we always want you to come in and see us. We’d rather have people err on the side of caution,” says Turnbull. If you are experiencing serious medical conditions — such as chest pain or difficulty breathing— don’t risk driving yourself to the ER. Call 911 for immediate medical attention. For less urgent conditions, consider making an appointment to see your physician or visit a walk-in care location. Edward-Elmhurst Health’s interactive symptom checker, Eleanor, can help guide you to the appropriate facility (ER or walk-in care). You can chat with Eleanor at EEHealth.org or on the MyEEHealth™ app.

  2. Serious conditions take priority. “Patients are seen based on the severity of their symptoms, not their time of arrival,” says Turnbull. You will be greeted by a nurse in the reception area who will then take you to a triage nurse to assess your situation. While more severe cases will be seen by a medical team first, the ER team works hard to keep those wait times to a minimum, says Turnbull. If you are concerned about the wait time, check in with the nurse at the reception area. If your condition has changed or worsened since you first arrived in the ER, please let the triage nurse know.

  3. Provide as much information as you can. Your ER care team will need to know not only about what brought you to the ER but your medical history. You will be asked about your current medical condition, any medications (prescription drugs, over the counter medication and supplements) you are taking and your medical history, including previous surgeries or any medical conditions for which you are under a doctor’s care. “We’ll be asking the story of what brought you in,” says Turnbull. “Provide as much detail as you can to the doctor so we can make sure we’re looking at the correct problem.” If you can, bring your photo identification and a list of current medications (but don’t delay in getting care to find or retrieve those items).

  4. Expect some labs or tests. There’s a good chance the physician may order some blood work, X-rays or other tests to aid in diagnosis. You may also be given medication for any immediate medical needs. Your ER care team will provide explanations of what is happening along the way and will review your test results with you.

  5. Follow-up care is important. You may be discharged from the ER and sent home with follow-up instructions. Be sure to take any medications recommended and follow up with your own primary care doctor, or any physicians the ER care team recommended. Follow-up care helps ensure proper treatment of any ongoing medical conditions and aids in recovery.

Open around the clock, Edward-Elmhurst Health’s fully-equipped Emergency Departments (EDs) in Naperville and Elmhurst, and a freestanding emergency center in Plainfield, follow COVID-19 safety protocols. Patients are screened for COVID-19 symptoms and asked to wear a face mask during their time in the ER. Patients who are negative for COVID-19 are allowed one care partner, who also is screened for COVID-19 and asked to wear a face mask during their time in the ER.

In addition to in-person office visits, our healthcare providers continue to see patients through Video Visits and other virtual options.

Which care option is best for me? Find out.

Learn more about our emergency care and check our ED wait times.

For COVID-19 updates, please check EEHealth.org/coronavirus.

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