As a person who desires to live life as natural as possible, you may have never considered having to face a hospital emergency room. Or, if the thought had crossed your mind, perhaps, it gave you a little shudder and you promptly suppressed it.
I want to share with you that, if prepared; a hospital emergency department does not need to be as intimidating as it sounds. Nor do doctors need to appear as the scary monster in the closet.
If you start today making a couple of lists, and keeping them in your purse or wallet, that will help tremendously if the occasion ever arises.
- Make a list of anything you take on a daily basis. That would include prescription drugs, vitamins, food supplements, or herbal remedies. If you drink 10 cups of nettles tea a day, that is something to make note of. If you occasionally drink a cup of nettles tea, it is not.
- Have a list of your doctors and their phone numbers. A short list of known allergies, past surgeries, or any pertinent medical interventions would also be appropriate. I’m not recommending that you keep a copy of your medical file with you at all times; just a few notes. Also, keep a copy of your insurance card in your wallet.
- “Bring an open mind,” said Ray Lucas, MD, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at The George Washington University. Since most emergency room visits are not for true medical emergencies, you cannot expect to be taken straight back. Bring a book in case you have to wait.
What else might you need to know? The doctor is a caring individual. He does not have a hidden agenda. Your best bet is to communicate with him. “The emergency physician has to make complex medical decisions often with little or no information,” said Lucas. “The quality of the decision,” he continued, “is correlated on the quality of the information on which it is based.” In layman’s terms, he is saying that he makes his decisions based on what you tell him, and test results; he has nothing more to go by. Also, you should be prepared to tell your story over and over again—to the nurse, to the doctor, to a consulting doctor, and, if it is a teaching hospital, a few more times still.
“By nature, the emergency physician likes to rule out serious causes of your complaint even if he or she cannot make a definitive diagnosis,” said Lucas. So, if he orders tests that you question, speak up and ask what he is looking for in those tests. Do not be afraid to ask questions. The doctor should be happy to explain everything to you, including any risks or side effects. With open communication, the two of you will better plan a course of action for your care. If you think you will not remember what the doctor tells you, write it down. In fact, write down everything that they do and every medication they give you. You may need the information when you follow up with your family practitioner. If you do not know how to spell something, ask. The nurse will be happy to help you.
And what about us natural health types? Should we tell the doctor that we took Echinacea/goldenseal tincture and garlic pills for the past three days? “Yes, you should,” said Lucas. “Many doctors don’t specifically ask, and most patients don’t consider them medications, so it is often a lost piece of information.” Many doctors are educated in the most common herbal remedies, like valerian for sleep; but if he doesn’t know, he may want to look it up if he suspects some type of side effect.
If you face an emergency, these tips will help. Hopefully, you won’t need to use them.
Photo by capturedbychelsea