4 Ways I Advocate For Myself At The ER or Urgent Care
Last updated: January 2023
As someone living with lupus, there are times you have an urgent matter that needs immediate attention. When your doctor is not available to see you, the ER or urgent care tends to be your only choice. Being your own advocate for care becomes extremely important in these situations. Chronic diseases have special needs. Without advocating for yourself, these needs might not be met, or it can change the course of your treatment. These are the tricks I use when at the urgent care or ER.
Bring a list of medications to the ER or urgent care
Most of us have an arsenal of medications. I have a hard time knowing all my medications and doses by heart. Instead of carrying all my medications with me. I have a word file that includes all my medications, medication doses, and supplements. I give a printout to the office when I first arrive. Due to the nature of the medical system, patients have limited time with nurses and doctors. This way, I can talk to the nurse when I am in the room about what ails me instead of spending my time giving a medication list.
Ask your ER doctor for a visit summary
Ask your doctor to write a short summary of your condition and the regular pitfalls you have. Give a copy of this letter to the front desk so the physicians can have the information when you first arrive. This is useful for further supporting any information you may give the physician you are seeing in the urgent care and ER. This also saves you time speaking to the nurse or physician in the room. Save the valuable face-time for the important stuff.
Take the patient survey
When you arrive at urgent care or ER, you are generally handed a "why are you here form." I find that if the first item you write is, I am immunosuppressed and living with lupus, with Raynaud’s, Sjogren's, etc. (or what you use to describe your condition). This makes the doctor aware of your condition before they enter the room. This gives you a bit of an advantage, also saving face-to-face time for the important stuff.
Speak up if you have questions
Don't be shy to speak up when you are in the room. This is your time. You have already set up your visit with the above 3 items. Remember that the urgent care or ER doctor does not know your full condition; talk to the doctor about what is going on with you and discuss what worked in the past. If it is something you have been afflicted with before, it is ok to suggest what treatments have worked for you before.
It is difficult to talk to those in authority, but who knows your condition best? You. If you are not confident about your condition, then educate yourself. This gives you the confidence to talk to the doctor about resolving your issue. I have several times requested several choices for treatment. Often, one I have had pops up when the doctor is making suggestions.
I hope these items can help you advocate for yourself at a new doctor's office. You are your own best advocate. What has helped you in your urgent care and ER endeavors? Please comment to share your strategies for a successful visit.
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