Patients in Illinois emergency rooms are supposed to be seen based on the severity of their condition. If you have a twisted ankle, ear infection, or minor illness, you may spend as much as eight hours in misery while you wait to be treated. If you have a serious injury or illness, you are supposed to be seen as quickly as possible.
But hospital staff are busy. They don’t always recognize a condition that is life-threatening. In these cases, delay in treatment may be fatal.
You can take steps to protect your health and increase your chances of getting the help you need in the emergency room. Here are some tips from the Rockford medical malpractice attorneys at Hupy and Abraham:
- If you think you are experiencing a heart attack, stroke, or other emergency that requires immediate treatment, call 911. Patients who come in by ambulance get faster treatment.
- When possible, go to an urgent care center rather than an emergency room.
- Before an emergency happens, find out if your local hospitals post emergency room wait times on the Internet. If your condition is not life-threatening, go to the hospital with the shortest wait time.
- Make sure that the hospital has the staff to treat your condition. If you have a dental emergency, you need an emergency room with a dentist on staff. If you have a dog bite, you will want a hospital with a plastic surgeon.
- If your condition is serious, go to the hospital where your physician has “admission privileges.” Call your doctor on the way to the emergency room. Your doctor may be able to call ahead and discuss your need for treatment with the emergency room staff. He may even be able to admit you to the hospital immediately, so you bypass the emergency room.
- Don't leave once you've started waiting. If you are sick enough to need emergency room treatment, you need to stay at the hospital.
- Let a nurse know immediately if your condition worsens or if you experience new symptoms.
- Bring a list of your medications and drug allergies. If you can, put your medications in a bag and bring them to the hospital. This is the best way prevent dangerous drug interactions.
- Bring any medical records or test results that relate to your condition. This will speed up the diagnostic process, so you can get the treatment you need.
- Bring a friend. If you are going to the emergency room, you are not feeling your best. Bring a spouse, parent, or friend who knows your medical history and can advocate on your behalf. Don’t bring children. They will distract you and your medical team.
Unfortunately, these steps may not be enough to guarantee that you get the treatment you need when you need it. If you or your loved one has suffered a serious injury as a result of emergency room delays, you may be eligible to file an Illinois medical malpractice claim. To learn more, contact the Rockford personal injury attorneys at Hupy and Abraham at 800-800-5678.