A Visit to the Emergency Room!


I recently had the experience of spending 24hrs in the ER.  I have to say the experience was quite surreal. My time spent in the ER taught me the following:


1: You may think you are a priority once you arrive to the ER but the reality is you are not.   It can be several hours after you arrive to the ER that you are seen by a doctor and a plan of care is determined.

2: Many Montreal hospitals are “teaching” hospitals.  After going through triage you wait to see a doctor. You wait and wait and wait. When you are first seen by a doctor your hopes are very high, however it will likely be a medical student/resident who reports to his senior resident and the senior resident reports to his supervisor. None of which are able to make a diagnosis without consulting with the other.  So after repeating your story at least 3 times and several hours later, you finally get to the doctor who will confirm diagnosis and decide on a plan moving forward.  It can be extremely frustrating but you must remain calm and polite at all times.

patience3: Patience is necessary! It is really hard sitting and waiting for the doctor and it may be hours before x-rays and scans are read.  Do not take frustrations out on the nurses, unit coordinators and/or orderlies as they are the ones who will  advocate on your behalf when needed. A little coffee and sweets can go a long way 🙂 

4: Know the names of the nurses and nurse’s aides assigned to you. If you take an interest in them, they will certainly take an interest back.  As my father always says, “the most important possession a person has is their own name.” 



5: Be prepared. Bring a folder containing the following information about your loved one:
-medicare card/hospital card
-updated medication list
-medical history
-list of doctors
-birth date
-important numbers
-paper and pen

  •  Throw in your purse for yourself and your loved one, a clean pair of underwear, deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste and slippers, you don’t know if your loved one will be admitted or how long you will remain in the ER
  • Lysol wipes are also great to wipe down high touch areas to limit the spread of infection
  • Chargers for your phone so your phone stays  fully charged and you can stay connected with family members

6: Update family members regularly as they may not be able to be there at all times. Send e-mails, texts and/or phone when you have new information or an update.  When family members hear silence they become increasingly nervous.

7: Make sure a family member is present at all times with your loved one in the ER.  If needed, set up a rotation with family members.  If your loved one can’t communicate or call someone when needed someone has to be there to ask for assistance  It’s also helpful to have two people present during doctor consultations, you’ll have a better chance of asking and remembering all the right questions and retaining information.

8: Familiarize yourself with the monitors. Heart rate monitor, IV, O2 levels, Blood pressure, temperature, etc. You Cardiac-Monitorsneed to understand the machines should there be a change in your loved one’s vitals.

9: Don’t be scared to use the call bell to ask for help, whether it is an emergency or not. The RN and nurses’s aides are there to help. It’s best to ask for help and avoid the possibility of an injury.

10: Hospital visits can be expensive.  If you are parking in the hospital parking lot and you are there for an extended period of time it is best to pay for 24hrs parking as the difference in cost is about $2.  Paying for a day pass allows you to go and come as you please without paying for parking each time.

11. Bring food, books and magazines to keep you entertained when your loved one is resting or sleeping.

The ER can be a very overwhelming place to be but hopefully the above mentioned tips will help guide you during your stay.

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