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Emergency Room Etiquette

Updated on June 24, 2009

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Tips for a Healthy Visit

 One of the least enjoyable things a person can do is go to the Emergency Room.  The ER is infamous for ridiculously long waits, and the most cranky people in the entire world seem to gather there.  Despite the fact that average people cannot make direct changes in the service at the particular hospital or affect the length of the wait, there are a few things the patient can do to to make the visit more friendly for everyone.

  1. Respect the other patients: I recently made an emergency room visit with a case of pleurisy.  This is not a life-threatening condition, although it could have been something more life-threatening, like a blood clot in the lungs, hence my ER visit.  My parents and husband were with me, and we all tried to maintain a positive attitude despite the painfully long wait.  We talked and I even laughed a few times, which, by the way, hurt terribly.  I was very relieved when my name was finally called.  My husband later reported to me that the other people in the waiting room griped after I left.  They complained that I shouldn't have gone before them.  After all, I had been LAUGHING!!  The point is, you never know what problems other people have.  You cannot judge based on what you see.  Respect the other patients.  They've had to wait, too, and no one feels good.
  2. Respect the medical staff: The night I was in the ER was one of the busiest nights they'd had in a long time.  I was in there for six hours.  The doctor was busy rushing back and forth between the eight rooms they had completely full.  I was impatient, but tried to keep a good attitude.  The fact is they're doing the best they can in a tough situation.  Give them a break.  Also, if you truly feel the staff is not doing all they can, most hospitals will welcome your constructive comment, so they can do their best to make the environment better.
  3. Keep a positive attitude: It is very hard to sit in a waiting room when you're in pain or suffering in some way.  Obviously, if you're in the ER you're probably pretty ill.  However, not only will a positive attitude make you and people around you feel happier, keeping calm about your condition will medically be beneficial.  Your body will work better when it's not overly stressed.
  4. Take the medicine you need before you go: Most doctors will tell you to go ahead and take the pain medication or fever reducer, especially since, with a lot of conditions the physician cannot diagnose with an instrument, and relies on your description of your pain.  Again, taking the medicine can help you to calm down, allowing your body to work on repairing itself.

These are a few suggestions that will almost certainly make your ER experience less stressful.  The key is to try to make the best of your bad situation.  Remember, when life hands you lemons...make lemonade!!


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    • caitlinlea profile image

      caitlinlea 7 years ago from Texas


      I never claimed to work in an ER, nor did I create a list of complaints. I simply tried to address the common complaint that the wait in the ER is very long. I actually thought my hub was casting some positive light on the subject by telling people to remain positive and be respectful.

      Did you even read my hub?

    • profile image

      Seth 7 years ago

      obviously caitlinlea doesn't work in the ER or a hospital for that matter. I love reading peoples complaints when they have no friggin idea what they are talking about. If you have to wait a long time for care in the ER, it means someone else (probably multiple someones) is in a worse condition than you. So please stop whining!

    • caitlinlea profile image

      caitlinlea 8 years ago from Texas

      While I agree with you that the ER is usually full of many sick people, I do not neccessarily think that people are trying to do the wrong thing by going there. Often they do need care very soon before the problem BECOMES an emergency. The problem would seem to lie more with the primary care offices, who for whatever reason cannot see the patients who need to be seen until it may be too late. I have been in this position myself, where I am not dying, but COULD very well become that way if I do not recieve medical attention soon.

      Again, positive attitudes go a long way toward easing people's pain.

    • profile image

      Suzie, 8 years ago

      Lee, I agree with you I too work in the ER. If the ER seems disorganized then the reason is that the we are innadated with very ill people. We too have the people that come in with sore throats, coughs, fevers that should have gone to their primary doctors. When people come in that should have gone to their primary doctors then it takes our care away from the really ill people or the people that couldn't get into their primary doctor's will find themselves waiting to be seen. With this economy we have cut back on staff and due to this we find ourselves in the medical field working very hard to take care of all those not feeling well. All those without insurance, no primary doctor, and those that just repeatedly use the ER as their primary doctors. I as an ER nurse I will great you with a smile and do my best to take care of you, but excuse me if I take a while in getting back to you. For I work in an ER not a doctors office and the really ill people, you know the heart attacks, strokes, pneumonias, astmatic attacks, miscarriages, rapes and more are more important to me than your sore throat. If you don't like how I take care of you then go to your primary care doctor or get one.

    • profile image

      LEE 8 years ago

      ralph-----obviously you have no clue of everything that goes on in the ER, i work in the er and there is alot more to it then the genereal public realizes i could explain it till im blue in the face but noone will ever understand until you work in it. one of the biggest problems is the general public abuses the ER and uses it as a primary care instead of having a primary care doctor, my advice is use these helpful tips which are great and your visit will be more pleasent!!!

    • caitlinlea profile image

      caitlinlea 8 years ago from Texas

      Thanks, Ralph!

      I don't know how the ER is where you live, but the one I recently visited seemed fairly organized. However, you're probably right, since there doesn't seem to be a reason to be in the place for six hours at a time.

      Thanks, Lori....:-)

    • lorim86 profile image

      lorim86 8 years ago

      Good tips. I enjoyed reading your article.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      My impression is that many hospital emergency rooms are not very well organized. The tasks are too fragmented among various specialists, and clearly established responsibility for each patient is lacking.