Monday, November 21, 2005

"How to survive in the ER"

A tip from Gruntdoc, excerpted from CNN Money:

So when my 84-year-old stepfather Jim quietly slumped out of his chair late last year, my mother and I were stunned.

Ten years of helping him manage Parkinson's disease hadn't prepared us for this. Barely conscious and unresponsive, Jim needed an emergency room—like, stat. You know the image: overcrowded halls filled with doctors who don't know you, overwhelmed with people unable to afford care elsewhere.


We called 911, scrambled desperately for Jim's Medicare card, grabbed his many medications and told the paramedics as much as we could recall. A white-knuckled 30 minutes later, Jim became one of the 114 million E.R. visits last year.

The emergency department (it's not a "room" anymore) is a weirdly democratic institution. It's a place where crisis rules the day and sets the pace.

It doesn't matter how rich or well insured you are -- if you bleed, you lead.

To help you prepare for the unexpected, MONEY spoke with doctors, nurses, patient advocates and other experts to develop this user's guide to the E.R. Here's hoping you never need it.


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