10 More Secrets the ER Staff Won’t Tell You

1. “People call 911 for the wrong things all the time. They wait too long to call—or don’t call at all—when they’re having a heart attack or stroke and we could actually save their lives. But they don’t hesitate to call for non-life-threatening things. I once had a guy call who turned out to have a hangnail.”
-Connie Meyer, RN, paramedic, Olathe, Kansas

2. “Even though we go on 20 calls a day, we try to remind ourselves that calling 911 may be a sentinel event in your life. We’re not Dr. Phil, but we do try to be reassuring.”
-Anthony Kastros, fire department battalion chief, Sacramento, California

3. “The 911 system was designed to help people in an emergency—not as a social agency or friend.”
-Don Lundy, paramedic, Charleston County, South Carolina

4. “I’m amazed at how many parents are reluctant to administer any first aid. If your child has a cut, apply pressure.”
-Joan Shook, MD, emergency physician, Houston, Texas

5. “Just because you told the triage nurse your problem doesn’t mean the doctor in the ER knows why you’re there. Be prepared to tell your story several times.”
-Linda Lawrence, MD, emergency physician, San Antonio, Texas

10 More Secrets the ER Staff Won’t Tell You©2010 Thinkstock

6. “I’ve had patients come in and say, ‘I haven’t been breathing well since yesterday.’ I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, really? Why didn’t you come in sooner?”
-Marianne Gausche-Hill, MD, emergency physician, Torrance, California

7. “If three of your relatives are with you, only one of them needs to tell the story of your illness. I realize it’s validating for everyone to tell their version of events, but I’m not here to validate you.”
-Allen Roberts, MD, emergency physician, Fort Worth, Texas

8. “A classic way a doctor-patient interaction can get off on the wrong foot is if a patient comes to the ER to get antibiotics. Most infections are viral, so they don’t respond to antibiotics. If we say you don’t need them, don’t argue.”
-David Newman, MD, director of clinical research, Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, New York City

9. We had an injured woman in our ER who said indignantly, ‘Do you know who I work for?’ In unison, all six of us who were treating her said, ‘No, and we don’t care.’”
-Allen Roberts, MD

10. “People are all up in arms about universal healthcare. Well, guess what: Those of us working in the trenches have been providing universal healthcare for years.”
-Arthur Hsieh, paramedic, San Francisco

Plus: 15 Secrets the ER Staff Won’t Tell You

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