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Understanding Suspicion in the Emergency Room continued...

ER staff will be more sympathetic to patients who have called their doctors and been told to go to the emergency room because the doctor was unable to see them, Blumstein says. “At least you’re showing you made an effort. You’re using the emergency room as your treatment of last resort, as opposed to the primary place you go for pain medication.”

3. Bring a letter from your doctor.

“A letter from your physician, with a diagnosis and current treatment regimen, is a reasonable thing to carry with you,” Fraifeld says. “Particularly if you’re on chronic opioids in today’s atmosphere, I would highly recommend that to patients.” 

Make sure the letter has your doctor’s name and phone number, Blumstein says. That way, if ER doctors want to contact your physicians, they can. A letter is especially useful if you’re traveling or going to a hospital that you’ve never visited before.

It’s fine to bring medical records, too, Fraifeld says. But don’t overdo it, Blumstein says. “I’ve had patients come in with tons of records -- I mean, you could measure the stack in inches. It just looks like you’re going overboard.” 

4. Bring a list of medications.

Bring a list of your medications, instead of relying on memory, Blumstein says.

Fraifeld takes it one step further and suggests that patients bring the drugs. “Take all the pain prescriptions with you -- the actual bottles -- not just the list,” he says. “[Patients], I’m sad to say, highly contribute to their own problems by not even being able to tell physicians exactly what they’re getting and when they got it and whom they got it from.”  

5. Work cooperatively with emergency room staff.

“It might not be fair, but if a patient comes in screaming and shouting that they need pain medication right away, the staff isn’t going to like it. It calls negative attention to yourself,” Blumstein says. “And it is unfair, because you might be having agonizing pain, and why shouldn’t you speak up for yourself, right? But a lot of staffs don’t like it and they don’t respond well to it. So rather than demand things, try to work cooperatively with the staff.”

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