No matter how well you take care of your health, there will probably come a time in your life when you or a loved one will have to go to a hospital emergency room for medical treatment. Every year, thousands of injuries and deaths occur because of medical care that does not meet the standards expected of emergency room technicians, nurses and doctors. Many of the most common errors and oversights can be eliminated by following some simple tips for making your visit to an emergency room safe.
DeLuca & Weizenbaum, Attorneys at Law, is a prominent medical malpractice law firm representing victims of below-standard medical care in emergency rooms and hospitals throughout Rhode Island. It is our mission to help people get the highest level of medical care they deserve, and the justice they are entitled to after suffering an injury that could have been prevented with proper medical care.
Here are some basic tips for how to avoid errors in the emergency room. Contact us with questions you may have about your specific circumstances and injuries.
- Medical records: Keep your medical records in a safe and available location in your home. In the event you need to call an ambulance to your home, or have a relative or neighbor drive you to the hospital or urgent care clinic, it is a good idea to bring the records with you. Your records should include the latest updated list of prescription and over-the-counter medications you are taking. Make sure a list of known allergies is included in your records.
- Health insurance: If your medical condition allows, call your health insurance provider to ensure that you are covered for the medical condition and emergency care center you will be visiting. Ask about co-pay amounts, deductibles and general financial terms of your policy coverage. Make sure you have your medical insurance card with you when you check in. As soon as you are able, notify your health insurance company of your check-in and hospital stay.
- Local hospital: Know which local hospital emergency room is staffed with board-certified emergency doctors. If you are a senior citizen, ask questions specific to meeting critical care needs of the elderly. Make sure you tell your EMT or driver the emergency room of your choice. Understand, however, that your health condition may dictate that he or she takes you to the nearest hospital or emergency clinic.
- Take notes: Bring a notebook and pen to take notes about your medical care and instructions. A dull pencil is still more reliable than the sharpest memory. Document everything about your check-in, diagnosis, tests and care you received.
- Comfort items: Depending upon your health condition, you may be required to sit in the waiting room or lie on a gurney for many hours. Bring any items you need to make your stay comfortable and sanitary. This includes bringing a book or magazine.
- Identify your doctors: You are likely to see more than one doctor from the time you check into the emergency room to the time you are released from the hospital. Ask for a business card or note the identification of every attending physician.
- Other professionals: Request an opportunity to discuss your circumstances with a case worker who may be on duty. If you are alone, a case worker will be able to handle many of the details that are typically handled by a spouse or loved one.
- Discharge: Do not check out without a formal meeting about discharge instructions, medication requirements and home health care needs. If you can avoid it, do not purchase medications or medical supplies (crutches, braces, etc.) from the hospital pharmacy. Ask for a written prescription and purchase what you need from your local pharmacy or medical supply store. In addition, demand a written emergency room report about your check-in, diagnosed condition, test results and final medical care during your entire stay.
- Final bill: Don't assume your insurance company will handle the details of your final hospital bill. Check over every financial statement from your insurance provider and hospital or clinic very carefully. Don't hesitate to challenge unpaid claims. Many claims are paid only after a successful challenge.
Why we work so hard to protect your rights
Doctors and hospitals have a responsibility to patients and their community to provide the highest level of medical care that meets the standards expected of the profession. We work hard to hold the medical profession accountable for ensuring patient safety and well-being.
DeLuca & Weizenbaum attorneys are committed to helping people avoid the medical care that is below the accepted standards, resulting in serious injuries or death following a trip to an emergency room or hospital. From our offices in Providence, we represent people injured by sub-standard medical care in communities throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Get the answers you need. Contact us today to arrange a no-cost consultation with one of our experienced Rhode Island medical malpractice lawyers.