Emergency Room Visits: What You Need to Know, Part 1

By Dr. Regina Hillsman

A trip to the emergency room is always traumatic, but there are steps you can take to smooth out the process.

1. Know Your Health Care Provider’s Toll-Free Line Sometimes the necessity of an ER visit is not immediately transparent. Perhaps you are experiencing symptoms that are cause for concern but do not seem cause for great concern. In such cases, make sure you have easy access to your healthcare provider’s after-hours toll-free number. Calling will put you in touch with a nurse who can diagnose your symptoms and help determine whether a trip to the emergency room is necessary. The toll-free number can be found on your provider’s website, as well as on the back of your healthcare card.

2. Understand ER Areas Many emergency rooms are divided into different sections: trauma, pediatric, observation, and others. In emergencies, panic often clouds our minds and obscures judgment; researching your hospital’s emergency room layout ahead of time makes for one less item to worry about if you need to go to the ER.

3. Organize Emergency Data ER physicians need to know certain information, such as patient allergies, current medications, health insurance plans, and chronic conditions. Gathering such data when an emergency takes place can waste precious time. Therefore, buy a folder, fill it with copies of all your emergency information, and keep it in an easily accessible place so you can quickly retrieve it in case of an emergency.

4. Be Patient Unless you have suffered severe trauma, most emergency rooms will enforce a routine that entails you being assessed, having your vital signs measured, and being directed to a waiting area where you and other patients will be called in order of urgency. Cooperating with the triage nurse who examines you will expedite the process.

5. Visit the Same Hospital If you suffer an emergency away from home, you should visit the nearest ER location. But when you are close to your home base, try to visit your regular hospital, as the doctors and staff there have access to your medical chart and other information collected over the course of previous visits.

By Dr. Regina Hillsman


About drreginahillsman
After graduating cum laude from Bryn Mawr College with a B.A. in Biochemistry, Dr. Regina O. Hillsman won admission to the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C. As a medical student, Dr. Regina O. Hillsman demonstrated an unwavering commitment to her future profession, earning entry to Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and graduating with honors and distinction in 1977. Upon receiving her M.D., Dr. Regina O. Hillsman began a series of internships and residencies at some of the top-ranked teaching hospitals in the Northeast, including Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, Montefiore Medical Center, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Washington, D.C. Consortium of Hospitals, where she served as Chief Resident from 1981 through 1982. At the completion of her formal education and post-doctoral clinical training, Dr. Regina O. Hillsman began a long and successful career in orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine. In private practice since 1995, Dr. Regina O. Hillsman maintains an office in Naugatuck, Connecticut, offering a wide range of surgical procedures and treatment options for area patients. Over the years, Dr. Regina O. Hillsman has helped countless individuals recover from various issues related to neck and back pain, sports and work injuries, arthritis, pinched nerves, and more, with an excellent record of patient satisfaction. Dr. Regina O. Hillsman holds additional affiliations with New Milford Hospital, Ridgefield Surgical Center, and the Hospital of Saint Raphael. A frequent recipient of honors and awards from professional and civic organizations alike, Dr. Regina O. Hillsman has been named Physician of the Year, won the Greater Waterbury Chamber of Commerce Foundation Business Women's Forum Award, and, on multiple occasions, was presented with the Outstanding Young Woman of America Award and the Physician's Recognition Award. To read more about Dr. Regina O. Hillsman and her work, visit her official website at drhillsman.org.

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