Monday, July 21, 2008

The Emergency Room

Hospital emergency rooms are always open; emergency help is always available. If you can't make it through the day, or through the hour, and your other resources are not sufficient, you can always be seen and taken care of in the hospital.

There are several points of entry to the hospital system. Sometimes an admission to a psychiatric ward can be arranged in advance, but quite often the entry point is the hospital emergency room.

Emergency rooms are chaotic places. There are a variety of frustrations that one might have to deal with. There may be a long wait to be seen by a physician. There might be a lot of noise, and a lot of upset due to various other emergencies being dealt with. The seats or beds may be physically uncomfortable. You would probably be seen by a variety of different people, and it may be very frustrating and exhausting to have to tell your story several times: first to a triage nurse, then to an emergency physician. If psychiatry is consulted, then there might be a student or resident who would see you next, prior to the actual psychiatrist. Along the way, each interviewer may be different in their level of comfort, thoroughness, or rapport with psychiatric interviewing. You may encounter an interviewer who is tired or impatient.

If you are in a time of urgent emotional distress, these frustrations can be especially hard to deal with. I encourage you to bear with it. At the very least, the emergency room is safe, and it can be the beginning of a powerful, sometimes life-saving therapeutic experience.

Here are two suggestions that can make an emergency room visit a little easier:
1) bring a friend or loved one with you, if possible
2) if you have a doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist, ask him or her to call or fax the emergency room, to better inform them about you in advance. This can often make a big difference, and help the process proceed more smoothly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

More suggestions for what to do/bring when going to the ER:
1)Bring some relaxing music or something to calm the nerves.
2)Never bring weapons, drugs, alcohol or anything that would endanger yourself or others.
3)Be Honest. The doctors and nurses are not stupid and will figure it out
4)Remember, people usually fear what they don't understand. Therefore don't take it personally if people jump to judgments or try to offer their 2 minute bedside psychotherapy.
5)Remember, you are entitled to the same standard of care as any other individual coming to the ER.
6)Lastly, give yourself credit for realizing the seriousness of your situation. It take strength and maturity to know when to ask for help.