Back to Document
Emergency Care: When Is It the Right Choice?
If you're sick or hurt and want help quickly, it may seem like a good idea to go to the emergency room (ER) for care. You may think of the ER as a source of the most immediate medical attention, but if your situation is not a real emergency, this isn't true.
When you go to the ER, you can't take a number and get help according to when you arrived.
Instead of getting quick service, may sit for hours in a crowded waiting room while more urgent cases are seen first. ERs also may be crowded because of staff shortages or because ill patients are waiting for hospital beds to become available. Time isn't the only thing you'll like spend during an ER visit. You likely will have a larger co-pay than you would for a doctor visit, or your ER visit for a nonemergency might not be covered at all.
A wise health consumer
Why do so many people use the ER if they don't really need to? In many cases, it's simply because it's difficult to know what certain symptoms mean, whether it's a throbbing headache, an injured ankle, or a child with a fever. For instance, abdominal pain may be a symptom of many different conditions, ranging from menstrual cramps to appendicitis.
In addition to feeling confused about symptoms, it's natural to feel nervous when illness or injury occurs, making it more difficult to think things through.
Your health care provider is a great source of help for choosing what's right for your situation. Call and describe your symptoms, ask questions, and get information that can help you decide whether you should go to the ER. You may just need to make an appointment to see your provider or use self-care measures at home. Making informed choices will result in better care, and ultimately, save you time and money.
What to expect
If you do go to the ER, be aware that patients are treated in order by the severity of their injury or illness. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), if you arrive by ambulance or are unconscious, you will be taken to a bed immediately for treatment. If someone drives you to the ER, you will stay in the waiting room until the staff determines your condition. A nurse will take your temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, check your symptoms, and find out your medical history. In the exam area, a doctor will examine you and may order tests. If you are seriously ill, you may be admitted to the hospital. If you are sent home, the ER doctor will discuss your diagnosis and treatment plan, the ACEP says.
Needing more care
When you don't recognize or understand symptoms, it's possible to choose too little care. Sometimes, people downplay a valid health issue instead of getting information and treatment for their illness or injury. A person may think that a stomachache will go away, for instance, when it may be a serious condition that should be treated. Any time you have a health concern, don't delay contacting your health care provider.
Here are warning signs of a medical emergency, according to the ACEP:
Chest pain or upper abdominal pain that lasts at least 2 minutes
Sudden or severe pain
Coughing or vomiting blood
Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
Sudden dizziness, weakness, or change in vision
Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
Change in mental status such as confusion
Unusual abdominal pain
Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
Changes in vision
Chronic conditions such as asthma or migraines sometimes flare up and require emergency care. A severe asthma attack, for instance, may be life-threatening if you can't breathe properly. If you have a chronic condition, it's best to work with your health care provider to prevent aggravating a condition. Doing so when you feel well can pay off in the long run. If you do need to go to the ER for your chronic condition, be sure to let your health care provider know.
Welcome to the Broward Health Imperial Point's NEW Emergency Department
The Emergency Department opened its doors January 3, 2010. This modern facility boasts 20 treatment rooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology as well as some of the luxuries of home. The department also features a Primary Stroke Center certified by the Joint Commission, behavioral health treatment area, designated critical care treatment room and family waiting area.
About Our Staff
The Emergency Department is staffed by board-certified emergency medicine physicians, registered nurses, and a team of multidisciplinary specialists who care for emergencies 24 hours every day.
Specialists on call include:
- General Medicine/Surgery
- Orthopedic Surgery
- Thoracic/Vascular Surgery
Emergency Department Process
It is important that our most critically ill patients are treated first. A triage nurse will assess your medical need and assign a priority based on national standards. The nurse will monitor you while you are in the waiting room. Please do not eat or drink unless it has been cleared by the nurse.
When a bed is available you will be examined by a physician. The physician may order tests, which will affect the length of time you need to remain in the Emergency Department. If you need anything or have any questions please consult the nurse assigned to you. Once all tests are completed and reviewed, the physician will decide whether you require hospital admission or can be discharged home.
The staff will make every attempt to keep you and your family informed throughout your visit. Due to limited space, and to protect the privacy of all patients, please adhere to the visitation policy of one visitor at a time. During extreme emergencies, all visitors may be asked to wait in the waiting room.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Will I be given a name of a follow-up physician?
A. You will be given the name of a physician from our staff or be directed to a Broward Health facility. If you have an HMO plan, contact your primary care physician for further care. If you are here for a work related injury contact your employer for follow up with their workman's compensation provider. If you need a physician referral, contact the Broward Health Line at 954-759-7400.
Q. Can I get copies of my medical records?
A. You may obtain a copy from the Health Information Management department after signing a release. For more information, call 954-776-8560.
Q. How do I get copies of my x-rays?
A. You may obtain a copy from the radiology department by calling 954-776-8750.
Q. Can I get a school or work release?
A. Your nurse will give you a note for missed time, including today's visit and any additional days that the physician feels you need to rest. For extended time, obtain a note from your primary care physician.
Q. Where can I get my prescriptions filled?
A. Prescriptions can be filled at any local pharmacy.
Q. I don't have any insurance, will you still treat me?
A. Yes, financial counselors are available upon request to assist you with your financial concerns.
Q. If I've been waiting a long time, can I leave the Emergency Department?
A. You have the legal right to do this, however we strongly discourage it. This could be a serious, life-threatening decision that you shouldn't make out of frustration. If you still want to leave, please notify the Triage Nurse who will give you a "Refusal of Treatment" form to sign.
If you have any concerns or questions during your stay, do not hesitate to contact your nurse or physician.
Need a doctor? Call the Broward Health Line at 954-759-7400.