Who Is Treating You?:  Emergency Room Hazards

Lee S. Goldsmith, M.D., LLB

You go to an Emergency Room, you are need of care—-What care will you get?

What care should you expect?

Obviously, the care that you will get and should expect is going to be dependent on where you are when that care is needed. If you are skiing in Colorado and suffer an injury, you will likely find well-trained and experienced orthopedic surgeons, but not necessarily a neurologist who can diagnosis early symptoms of a stroke. 

However, we are functioning in the New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia corridor with multiple medical schools, specialized hospitals and institutions advertising the excellent care they provide and competing for patients. You should expect excellent care and the availability of top-notch consultants, in every specialty, 24/7. 


The emergency room staff, upon your arrival, by ambulance or car, will make an initial evaluation. It is called triage. Who must be seen immediately? Who needs to be seen urgently? Who can wait? That decision-making process is appropriate —-but!

  1. If you can, go to the emergency room with an advocate, be it a family member or a friend. If you have a signed health care proxy, bring it with you. 
  2. Do not be shy. If you have complaints, state them and make them heard. Ask questions and do not be afraid to make demands. If you don’t make demands, you may be shunted off to wait when waiting may result in permanent injury and death.
  3. Find out who is seeing/treating you. Is it a nurse practitioner or a physician? Find out if there is a specialist coming in to see you.
  4. If you have a fractured arm, there may be pain, but no rush. If you have chest pain, or signs or symptoms of a stroke, time is of the essence. 
  5. If you feel or your family feels that you are getting worse, get help!!
  6. Ask questions, demand answers and be pushy. THE SHY DIE!!