ER Visits Made Safer And More Efficient By Patients

In Emergency Rooms, sometimes only minutes mean the difference between life and death. But often, those precious minutes are wasted..... by patients.

"Are you allergic to any medicines?"

A simple question and answer.... but for patients and doctors in the emergency room it's much more.

"The average elderly person that's 65 or older is probably on 5 to 10 medications, and there's so many different medicines out there that can cause toxicity in high ranges," says Dr. Lee Ann Koster, as she works on a patient at the ETMC Emergency Room.

Doctors say more and more, they're losing valuable time because patients can't tell them what medications they're on, sometimes delaying treatment for hours and endangering the patients.

"We have to track down family members, sometimes send family members back to the house to figure out what medicines they're on, call pharmacists, and physiatrist to figure out what they're on," says Dr. Koster.

Another inefficiency in ER's? People who bring sick relatives and leave to run errands.

"A lot of times people will call the paramedics and send their family member to the hospital and then and they show up three hours later. Meanwhile, we have no clue what medicines the patient's on, and what they're normal mental status is. If they're going to send their family members to the hospital for any reason, they need to come with them," says Koster.

But Karol Roster didn't have either of those problems when she came to the ER for chest pains.

"I carry my list with me. It's very important to do that so that the doctor doesn't give me something that might not gel with what I'm taking," says Karol.

Lessons learned after Karol took her own mother to the ER several times. Now she also knows the importance of being with the injured in the ER

"The patient might not be coherent, they might not know what's going on," says Karol.

"It's kind of like playing detective; you have to figure out what's going on and the more clues you have the easier you can figure out the puzzle," says Dr. Koster.

To make it easier for you to take that important information to the ER with you, we have a checklist you can print and fill out from home.

Just go to our web site, and link to the "Know More on 7" icon. Then click on the icon " ER Checklist."

Reporting: Braid Sharp