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Emergency Room 101

July 5, 2012, 6:17 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Emergency Room 101

At a moments notice, would you know what to do and expect in the ER?  Doctors say you should be prepared just in case you do make a trip to the emergency room.

The emergency room can be a scary, stressful place.

"Never been hurt in my life," Dan Sieb said.

While some are lucky to never have been to the ER yet, Dr. Beth Lapka says it's almost guaranteed you'll make a trip sometime in your life for either yourself or a family member.

"I think the most important thing for them to understand is that we aren't always able to move as quickly as they think we should be able to," Lapka said.

That means, depending on your situation, you may see a doctor right away or wait for hours. Lapka says some people don't understand that it's not first come, first serve.

"We always have to determine which emergencies need to be seen first even though the patient defines what's an emergency for them," Lapka said.

Another thing you should consider before coming to the emergency room is to make sure you have the proper medical forms in hand.

"It can help us quite a bit, especially if you have a record of your past medical history or at least your current medication list. That's one of the most important things because that can affect the medications we give you," Lapka said.

Lapka understands not everyone has time to find the forms, but patients should understand doctors in the ER might not find out what's exactly wrong with them, just that they don't have a serious illness or problem.

"If we've ruled those things out, a lot of times we'll send you home for further work to find those answers with your regular doctor," Lapka said.

So do people in KELOLAND know what to expect? We hit the streets of Sioux Falls to find out.

"Usually expect a long wait. That's the only thing I really know about the ER," Robert Lawson said.

"They have other emergencies, too, that are more important than yours," Lorna Schleis said.

Sieb, who's never been to the ER, almost passed ER 101, but thought more about the wait time rather than the right medical forms.

"If I could, I'd probably bring a cooler and some refreshments," Sieb said.

Read more about what to do in a medical emergency online.

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