Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some common questions about Mercy Medical Center's Emergency Department and how it operates.
Q. If I'm not sure I need emergency medical attention, what should I do?
A. First, contact your doctor and discuss the situation with him or her. If you can't reach your doctor, it's better to be safe than sorry: Call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room.
Q. How do I know whether it's a life-threatening situation?
A. Look for these indicators:
- Heavy bleeding
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive pain
- Large bruise or other obvious injury
- Change in skin color
- Change in skin condition (cold, clammy, etc.)
If you think you face a life-threatening situation, don't hesitate: Call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room.
Q. Should I call an ambulance or drive myself?
A. If any of these factors are present, we suggest that you choose ambulance transportation:
- Traffic conditions could cause an unacceptable delay
- Your/the patient's condition could get worse on the way
- You are/the patient is:
- Having difficulty breathing
- Bleeding heavily
- Dizzy or disorientated
- Having seizures
- Suffering from a head, neck, or back injury
- Showing signs of shock (pale, cold, clammy skin; a weak, rapid pulse)
- You have/the patient has significant injuries you can't see
- Anything that could affect your ability to drive safely
Q. How do I decide which emergency department to go to?
A. Your doctor can advise you. If you can't reach your doctor and you intend to drive, go to the nearest emergency room. If you go by ambulance, ambulance personnel can provide the current status of area emergency rooms.
NOTE: The ambulance personnel cannot recommend which emergency room you should choose. If you don't have a preference, the team will choose an emergency room based on its proximity, your type of emergency and other factors.
Q. When are you open?
A. Our entire emergency facility is open and fully staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Q. Will I receive attention right away?
A. You will be "triaged" (given an initial medial evaluation) right away. We always treat the sickest patients first, regardless of who arrived first.
Q. How long is the usual wait?
A. Triage and admission usually take 15-20 minutes. Treatment begins depending on the seriousness of your condition and how many other patients are in need of emergency care. For example, severe bleeding or a head injury takes priority over a broken arm.
If you think you've been overlooked, feel free to ask for an explanation. If you think your condition is getting worse, ask to be checked by a nurse. We'll update you as often as possible.
Q. Are there any conditions you don't treat?
A. We treat, and are equipped to handle, all emergency-type conditions
Q. Do you treat children?
A. Yes. We treat everyone in need of emergency medical care. For the most critically ill children we have an on-site pediatrician.
Q. What information will I be asked for?
A. Part of our medical evaluation is gathering information about the patient's existing medical condition and medical history. We'll ask for the following information at check-in:
- Name(s) and specialties of current doctor(s)
- Name(s) and dosage of current medication(s)
- Any drug allergies
- Any recent medical problems or surgeries
- Date of birth
- Health insurance information
- Religious beliefs/preferences
- Living will or advance directives
Q. Do I have to bring anything with me?
A. You should bring your health insurance ID card(s). If the patient is taking any prescription medicines, bring those as well.
It's a good idea to maintain written medical histories of any loved ones, such as an elderly parent, who is more likely to face a medical emergency. Keep them updated, and bring them with you.
Q. What health insurance do you accept?
A. We recognize virtually all health insurance coverage. But all patients are accepted for care, regardless of their ability to pay. We'll sort that out after we're sure the patient is out of danger.
Q. Can I prepare for an emergency department visit?
A. Yes. Get to know the hospitals in your area. What are the best driving routes? What conditions are they known for treating? Also, if you have a loved one, such as an elderly parent, who might be expected to face an emergency, pack an overnight bag with their necessities in it and keep it handy.
Q. What can family and friends do during an emergency?
A. If the patient can't communicate clearly, a family member or friend should hold their paperwork, know their medical history and be ready to provide answers.
Other than that, we direct visitors to the waiting area. We'll update them on the patient's condition on a regular basis.