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10 Things to Bring to the Emergency Room

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 17, 2021

Emergency room visits by their nature aren’t planned and things can move very quickly after an accident or sudden change of health. There are key things to bring to the E.R. and it’s a good idea to have them ready just in case.

What to Take to the Hospital

Unless you need immediate, life-saving treatment, you will go through a registration and triage process before seeing a doctor. This involves sharing your personal and medical information, which you will need to bring with you. There are other important things to take to the hospital, too.

Health Insurance and Credit Cards

You will be asked about your health insurance. Depending on your plan, you may have a copay or a deductible, which means you might have to pay a certain amount for medical services. So be sure to bring your health insurance information and a credit card with you to the ER.‌

If you can’t afford to pay for medical treatment right away, the doctor will treat you and send you a bill in the mail afterward. You will still have to pay the amount your insurance doesn’t cover and any other expenses.

Photo ID

The hospital might ask you for your photo identification during registration. This is to avoid health insurance and billing fraud. A driver’s license, state ID, or passport will work.

Next of Kin Information

The hospital will need to contact your family members about your treatment, especially if your life is at risk. You will be asked for this information at registration, but it’s a good idea to keep a typed list in your wallet.

List of Current Medications and Over-the-Counter and Street Drugs

If you are able to register and go through the triage process, the intake nurse will ask you about any medications you currently take and any other over-the-counter drugs, herbs, multivitamins, or street drugs you take. Keep a typed list of your current medications and all other supplements and their doses in your wallet.‌

This information is important if:

  • You forget what you take
  • You take a lot of medications
  • A friend brings you in and doesn’t know your information
  • You need lifesaving treatment and there isn’t time for triage‌

If you are caring for someone who doesn’t have a list, bring all the prescription medication bottles you can find.

List of Allergies

On the same typed list of medications, record any of your allergies, including:

This will help your doctor treat you safely with the right medications and is important for treating severe allergic reactions.

Personal Assistance Devices

If you use daily living aids to help you communicate or get around, make sure to bring them with you. These can include:

Swallowed Poisons

If you accidentally or purposefully swallowed a poison or you care for a child or adult who has, bring the product with you to the emergency room. If you can’t bring it, take a picture if you have time and tell emergency staff about the toxin, how much and when it was swallowed. This is important information that can help them quickly treat for a possible poisoning.

Missing Limbs

If you’ve severed a finger, toe, or other limb, bring it with you or have another person find it and bring it to the hospital. A surgeon might be able to reattach it. ‌

After you’ve controlled the bleeding, pick up the finger or toe, and immediately wrap it in a clean, damp cloth. Seal it in a plastic bag, put it on ice, and take it to the hospital. Don’t wash it or do anything else to it. 

Phone and Charger

If you need lifesaving treatment and you are alone at the hospital, the doctor will contact your next of kin and ask them to come be with you. Sometimes you might need emergency treatment and still be conscious. Bring your phone and a charger so that you can keep your family updated about treatments, tests, transfers, or anything else that’s happening. 

Legal Documents

If you have an advanced health directive that states you don’t want blood transfusions, life support, surgery, or you have a do-not-resuscitate order, bring those papers with you. Doctors will do everything they can to treat you and save your life, but only to the extent that you want to receive care. 

Be Prepared

Prepare this information and store it all together in a common place like the medicine cabinet. This will help you avoid the stress of figuring out things to take to the hospital at the last minute. 

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital: “What to Bring.”

Merck Manuals Consumer Version: “Being Admitted to the Hospital.”

NHS: “Poisoning – Treatment.”

OrthoInfo: “Fingertip Injuries and Amputations.”

Signature Care Emergency Center: “7 Things You Should Bring to the Emergency Room.”

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