I have had the misfortune of visiting three different emergency rooms in the past five years, two with my mother and one with my son. (See my post from yesterday for my son's story.) Because I have not been the patient, I have had the time to people watch and observe. Below are some of my observations and thoughts about emergency rooms. Here is a long list for the suggestion box of emergency rooms everywhere.
1. When your hospital is surrounded by one-way streets, and there is so much construction going on that one can't FIND the emergency room, it isn't really designed for "emergency" treatment, is it?
2. If you do not want me to park in a 15 minute spot for more than 15 minutes, make sure there is plenty of parking near the entrance to the emergency room. When my kid is sick and the only parking within 100 yards of the door is 15 minutes, I'm parking there. Your choices are to provide more parking, or get my kid processed in 15 minutes. You make the call.
3. There is nothing like instilling confidence in the care about to be received like uniformed police officers, with weapons, at the entrance to the emergency room, in the lobby, and in the waiting room.
4. I realize y'all are open 24/7, but would it kill you to sweep and mop the floors and maybe wipe the chairs down? Sick people have been here, and more sick people are coming in ... you're supposed to help people get better, not expose them to additional germs and disease.
5. When the sign says no cell phone use because it interferes with medical equipment, I'm pretty sure that means you should have said something to the woman having a screaming match with her boyfriend on her cell phone.
6. If you are going to call an area in the waiting room the "kids" area, it would be nice to have some kid-appropriate things. Is it just me, or did Guns & Ammo change its demographic? Really, I could do an entire post on how wrong it is to have Guns & Ammo ... in a hospital ... in the emergency room ... in the kids area. It's not rocket science, people.
7. Why don't emergency rooms have gowns that are appropriate for children? Putting my 8 year old in a one-size-fits-all adult gown was comical. And wouldn't it just be easier to have all of the "small" stuff - the pediatric blood pressure cuff, the smaller gauge needles, etc. - in a central location so the nurses do not have to run around like cockroaches when they are treating a child?
8. Shouldn't it be part of a technician's training to already know how to re-program a CAT scan for a child? In our case, the tech was on the phone, with someone who had a manual, trying to figure out how to set it for a pediatric scan, while my son was on the table. For Pete's sake, at least make that call BEFORE we get in the room!
9. Bleeding profusely definitely gets the receptionist's attention, as do vomiting and stroke symptoms. I get that. But that doesn't mean the receptionist should be able to dismiss me because my family member isn't bleeding profusely, or vomiting, or presenting with stroke symptoms.
10. I realize the staff and nurses deal with sick/hurt people all the time, but would it kill you to be sensitive to the fact that you are treating a child? My 8 year old son doesn't know what triage means, or IV, or CAT scan. He doesn't understand what you mean when you ask him when he last moved his bowels or what you are going to do when you palpate him. Not knowing what is going to happen is very scary for a kid.
11. Please don't mention "surgeon" or "surgery" unless that is what you are going to do ... for sure.
12. When critical patients come in, such as car accident or gun shot victims, please don't bring them through the waiting room. There must be a back door or a side door somewhere.
13. It is very frustrating to be in a treatment room, waiting for a nurse or doctor, and then see or hear the doctors and nurses yucking it up out in the common area.
14. Please don't send us home before we are ready. Conversely, please do not make us stay when we are ready to go home.
15. If I fill out two forms and give you a medical card, would it kill you to spell my patient's name correctly? Isn't that kind of important?
I think these are small things that would make a big difference. Just sayin.