Emergency rooms are a real asset when you are injured or suddenly become ill, requiring prompt treatment. However, because they handle last-minute problems of all kinds, emergency rooms can get a little busy and chaotic. This is just the nature of the business! As an average American consumer, it's important to know a few tips and tricks that can ensure you get the help you need in the emergency room -- without too much hassle.
1. Calling an ambulance does not get you in faster,
Hospitals rely on a system called triage to determine who needs to be seen by the emergency room doctors the fastest. If one person comes in with a massive axe wound and someone else comes in with a cough, for example, the ER is going to treat the person with the axe wound first. Some people think that if you take an ambulance ride to the ER, this will allow you to bypass the triage process and get treatment faster -- but that is simply untrue. The hospital will still evaluate what is bothering you and then correctly cede you in line depending on the severity of your ailment compared to everyone else's ailments.
2. Call your insurance company first.
Many people arrive to the ER for treatment and are surprised to find that their health insurance company won't cover emergency treatment for the condition they're experiencing. So if your ailment is not gravely life-threatening, take a minute to call your insurance company before heading to the ER. If you have something more minor like a cough or a fever, they may recommend that you go to an urgent care center instead.
3. Bring your health insurance information.
Your treatment may be delayed if you do not have all of the necessary information to give emergency room staff. So, if at all possible, bring your health insurance card with you to the ER. If you do not have this information on you when you are injured, arrange to have a friend or family member go pick it up and bring it to you ASAP.
4. Keep your story short and sweet.
ER doctors need to know what happened to you, but they do not usually need to know a 5-part backstory. Tell them briefly what is wrong and what happened, and leave them to ask questions if they need other information. Spilling too much information up-front may result in slower service for other patients and may even leave your doctor feeling overwhelmed with details.