I hope this isn't considered off topic (if you want some serious bad service, you should read more about some of the incidents they mention in that article, it'll scare the crap out of you) but since it's a very common problem a lot of people here have had I thought that you guys might like to hear some of the tips on how to get help faster in an emergency room. I'm also glad to see some high-profile complaints about emergency rooms because sometimes the doctors and nurses are trying very hard, and sometimes they honestly don't give a crap, and often that puts people's health in danger.
1. Don't forget to call your doctor on the way to the ER
When ER doctors hear from a fellow physician, they listen, says Beiser at the University of Chicago. "They'll talk to me professionally and put a bug in my ear," he says. "This guy will now be on my radar screen."
2. Don't use an ambulance unless you really need it
"There's a myth out there that if you arrive in an ambulance, you'll go straight back to the doctor," Mason says. "But it's not true. If we can see that you can walk, you may get asked to get off that gurney and go to the waiting room."
3. Don't be quiet
If the triage nurse -- that's who makes the decisions about who needs care first -- isn't helping you, don't stop there, says Sayah. "Speak up. Say, 'I need to see the person in charge,'" he says.
4. Don't get angry, and don't lie
While it's important to make yourself heard, it's also important to use basic etiquette.
"We're all human, and usually when people are nice to us, we're nicer back to them," Sayah says.
Lying about your symptoms -- making them seem worse than they really are in hopes of getting attention faster -- can backfire, says Dr. William Bozeman, an emergency room doctor at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
"We have people saying they have crushing sub-sternal chest pain, that they're having a heart attack, when in reality they're trying to get Vicodin for chronic back pain," he says. When the staff figures it out, "They may not be very pleased at all and may not treat you nicely."
5. Don't forget the phone
If things get really bad, and no one is helping you, look for a house phone, dial zero, and ask for the hospital administrator on call, Sayah says. "Even the smallest hospitals have a hospital administrator or a patient advocate on call 24/7," he says. "Hospital administrators don't want to hear patients are unhappy. Their job is to break the hurdles and move forward."
I want to clarify right now that this guy waiting for pain meds is not really the biggest deal in the world. Most of what I was interested in was the advice on how to make sure you don't get passed over when you shouldn't (like calling your doctor) and examples of people being neglected in the ER and getting more damage/dying because of it.
An emergency room is a very busy place and if you don't need immediate help, you probably won't get it, and that's just how it's going to be. That sucks, but there's not much to be done about it. The real problems come when people don't get taken care of well or at all when they really do need it, which is much more common than it should be, and often times it's not due to a rush but to doctors and nurses just not caring what happens.