6 Emergency Room Survival Tips

Needle Sticks

Emergency room lab technicians usually have a hard time getting needles into my veins. Last week was no exception.

Emergency room (ER) experiences can be awful. Especially in New York City. You just never know what type of scene you’ll be walking into.

In NYC, emergency rooms are typically packed full of non-English speaking immigrants, rowdy homeless people, and people who actually need care.

In other words, be prepared to stand or sit next to someone you don’t want to. Particularly if you’re not critically sick or injured.

What are emergency rooms like where you’re from? Tell me in the comments below.

Last Tuesday, my doctor told me that she wanted me to go to the emergency room because she felt I was having symptoms of a bacterial infection in my kidneys.

I was so angry at the idea of having to go to the ER. I figured that I wasn’t sick enough to go and thought I’d be better off sleeping at home and then going to see my regular doctor the next day.

After much persistence by my doctor, I was convinced that I had to go. She made me believe that the situation was severe enough to warrant the trip.

Turns out she was right. The ER doctors told me that a bacterial infections of the kidneys could result in permanent damage to them. They put me on 14 days of antibiotics to remedy the situation. I was fortunate to get help before things became serious.

As I was sitting on a stretcher waiting to be seen by a doctor, a number of things popped into my mind as good content for a blog post.

6 Emergency Room Survival Tips

  • Tip #1) GO IN PREPARED: If you’re not critically injured and have time to ponder the idea of going to an emergency room, make sure you go in prepared. This means bring a good book with you, pack up chargers for any electronic devices you might bring, put on comfortable clothing, and bring some socks. Also take off your make-up and write down any prescription drug information you might not remember. Bring your health insurance information if you’re going to an American hospital.
  • Tip #2) KEEP CALM: Of course you’re in an emergency room and that means that you’re going to worry about the challenging health situation that you’re facing. Unfortunately, worrying about what could be wrong doesn’t help matters at all. Take one moment at a time and remember to breathe steadily. Try to stop yourself from have a worst case scenario vision of your problem. In fact, try to not have any vision at all especially if it’s hard to think positive thoughts in this type of scenario.
  • Tip #3) TELL A FRIEND: Before leaving my house, I told a few people that I was taking myself to the ER. One of my friends was kind enough to call me a car service so I didn’t have to hunt a taxi in the middle of the night. My mom, sister, and cousin all checked up on me throughout the entire length of my hospital visit (which lasted from 9:30 PM to 5:30 AM). My friends and family kept me company through texts and phone calls, so they were a really great distraction.
  • Tip #4) HAVE PATIENCE: One woman sitting next to me in the waiting room was freaking out because her name wasn’t being called fast enough. She would sigh each time an administrator called someone in to see the doctor who wasn’t her. After she sighed, she’d put her head between her knees and sigh some more. Do you think that type of anxiety was helping her or causing more problems? Of course it was causing more problems. According to WebMD, stress leads to distress which causes “physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping.”
  • Tip #5) SPEAK UP: Don’t be afraid to talk about the exact symptoms you’re having. You will get a more accurate diagnosis if you’re honest. If a nurse or staff member isn’t kindly giving you the attention you deserve, ask to speak with someone else. If a lab technician needs to draw your blood, but has difficulty finding a vein, ask for a different technician.
  • Tip #6) BE CONSIDERATE: Emergency room doctors are usually young and thorough in their assessment of you. They’re also under a lot of pressure and are traumatized by the horrific cases they see each day. Be thankful for their interest in serving you well in order for them to treat you as well as they possibly can. Saying “thank you” for good service may actually lift their spirits a bit and get you out of there faster (if you’re healthy enough).

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Also let me know if you’ve ever had to deal with emergency rooms in the comments section below.

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Wishing you good health,


I always pack a bag of extra comfortable clothes. Usually some light pajama bottoms or jogging pants, a cpl t-shirts, socks and underwear, and my toothbrush. lol. Gotta be prepared just in case I gotta stay. Oh yeah my meds too. They always have problems getting my ferriprox and the meds for my pulmonary meds too. 


As a cancer survivor I've had to deal with emergency rooms many times. The best advice is to bring someone along whenever possible.


I have another one - don't worry if EVERYONE wants to check up on you! I've been in a few times where I'm the first bleeding disorder patient anyone on the floor has seen, so they all want to come and see what's going on and ask questions. It can be frustrating if you're unwell, but I like to take it as on opportunity to educate about my rare condition.

A great list Jo!


@Citygirl15 That's a really great point. Someone said the same thing on my Facebook page, too.  Having someone accompany you is so important, especially if you're unable to make decisions or speak up for yourself easily. Thank you for the comment!