July 19, 2023
Public health expert Dr. Leana Wen wrote a column in the Washington Post on July 6 titled, “Six tips for when you need emergency care.” (See Opinion | Six tips for preparing in advance of going to the emergency department – The Washington Post). Her six tips were as follows:
- Decide where you would go. Have a plan for where you will seek emergency care. This is not an option for someone taken to the hospital from the scene of an accident. When seeking care afterward, you have a choice. An experienced personal injury attorney can offer advice as to options for care when it is not a true emergency. However, everyone should know in advance where they will go if there is a need for emergency care.
- Know your story. The “medical history” is the combination of facts about the onset of the condition and the symptoms you are experiencing. Dr. Wen recommends having a 30 second version and a two minute version. People are often nervous at hospitals, and it is easy to forget to tell doctors and nurses everything. If possible, make a list of all symptoms. Everything that feels different from normal is a potential symptom. That includes pain, but may also include burning, tingling, numbness, nausea, changes to senses (vision, hearing, smell, touch), changes in mood, or anything else that feels “off” or “weird.”
- Report everything even if symptoms end up unrelated. Don’t try to “be the doctor” and figure out in advance if your symptoms are related or important. Everything is important. Something you may think is completely unrelated may be the most important symptom.
- Try to have an advocate with you. It is very helpful to have a family member or friend with you, to help support you, and to help exchange information with the doctors and nurses if you have difficulty doing so. It is also good to never be alone when you are in a medical emergency.
- Push for a diagnosis. You have a right to know what is wrong with you. Many times, emergency room doctors are most concerned with making sure you don’t have a life threatening condition. They just want to rule out these conditions. They aren’t as focused on figuring out what is actually wrong with you. Ask the doctor to explain your diagnosis to you in words you understand.
- Know what happens next. You need a treatment plan. This is more than an instruction to “see your family doctor if the pain comes back.” Something made you sick or hurt enough to go to the ER. You need a game plan for making sure the condition receives the care it deserves.
If the condition that took you to the ER was caused by an accident, it is always wise to call an experienced personal injury lawyer. Only a doctor can diagnose your medical condition and give you valid advice to protect your health. In a similar way, only an experienced personal injury lawyer can evaluate your legal situation and give you valid legal advice to protect your rights.
At Waldman Legal Group, we provide a free case analysis. Call us. Let us help you.