Watching out for your own needs in the ER

Don't wait in the ER waiting room unelss you really have to

While in Naples, Florida, my husband, Raj developed a raging cold, sore throat and dripping nose and was concerned he had strep throat when he started to run a fever. Not sure if we should go to walk in clinic, try to find a local doc to see him, or go to an ER, I called an ER nurse I know in Naples, who suggested that once a local doc heard Raj had a cardiac surgery history, he’d be asked to go to the ER. So we went off to a local hospital. Lesson one: when you are out of town, always see if you can make contact with a local person to find out the best emergency department/doctor for your situation.

Raj got put in a quiet private ER room after his throat culture was taken. Flat on his back in a quiet room, he did the natural thing for him and fell asleep. In the waiting room I endured two loud people discussing life histories (horses with seizures, dogs with seizures, brain bleeds, and the differences between the east coast of Florida and the west coast, among many other topics). A woman sat behind me for at least an hour while she sobbed from abdominal pain. There was a TV playing the news channel, which taught me about the Gulf oil spill, a child who was left in a car for 9 hours while his mom was gamblin – “It was a one time mistake”, she told the authorities who took away her child, the anticipated hurricane season, a teenager and mother who got stuck in a tree – and more. This news was repeated about three times over 2 hours.

Then a mom and a child under the age of 2 arrived. The child spoke only Spanish (MIRA, AQUI, MIRA, AQUI) and paid not a bit of attention to his mother. He climbed all over the furniture. The ER receptionist put on a TV with cartoons to distract the child, so there were two TVs playing a few feet apart… different stations. The anticipated benefit of the cartoons did not occur. The child started to shriek. The shrieking Spanish child was the last straw and I asked to go back to Raj’s room. I was there only a few minutes in the blessed peace and quiet when Raj got discharged. His throat culture was negative but he got an antibiotic RX anyway. I think I was happier to leave than he was.

Lesson two: Don’t endure 2.5 hours in a waiting room when you can be with the patient. Had I only known…

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