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Frequently Asked Questions

Emergency Room

We are glad you chose Sarah Bush Lincoln for your healthcare needs. Your well-being is important to us, so feel free to ask questions or provide suggestions for us as we continuously strive to improve our services and improve the patient experience.

Q: What should I expect during an ED visit?

A: When entering the Emergency Department you will be greeted by the registration staff who will gather a brief amount of information. Then, the triage nurse, who is specially trained, will ask you questions about your condition, and check your vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, temperature, etc.) to determine the seriousness of your illness or injury. People are seen based on their medical condition, not necessarily in the order of arrival.

- After triage, you will return to registration to submit or verify your personal and financial information. Sarah Bush Lincoln offers treatment to all people, regardless of their ability to pay. After the registration process is complete, you will be asked to have a seat in one of the waiting chairs. 

- In the Emergency Department you will be cared for by a registered nurse, who has received specialized training for emergency care, and one or more doctors trained in Emergency Medicine. All of our ED doctors are board certified and residency trained. During your visit you may have laboratory tests, X-rays, and medications to help the medical staff determine your condition and develop treatment options.

Q: What is a triage nurse?

A: The purpose of triage is to determine the severity, or risk factors for conditions that may require immediate attention. Patients are then seen based on the severity, or potential risk, of their illnesses. The triage nurse performs the primary assessment, obtains the first set of vital signs, your medical history, and medication usage. Then, the triage nurse is able to determine the appropriate treatment room for you, based on your condition.

Q: Why do some people get taken right to the back, while others have to wait?

A: Some people have a condition that may threaten their lives or body parts. These people require immediate tests and treatment. Other people are checked by our triage nurse and will be seen in the order of severity. Please be patient, everyone is a priority.

Q: I'm still waiting in the waiting room while people who came in after me keep going before me. What's going on?

A: This could happen for several reasons. The people getting seen before you have been determined to have a higher risk for a life (or limb) threatening illness based on the triage assessment. Another reason is that your illness may require a specialty room, and we are waiting for it to become available. Please let us know what we can do to make your wait more comfortable.

Q: What's an appropriate room?

A: We have certain rooms equipped to care for certain conditions. We have general treatment rooms, orthopedic injury rooms, cardiac monitored rooms, resuscitation rooms, a trauma bay, and OB/GYN equipped rooms, an eye exam room, and more. It is important that people are in rooms with the necessary resources readily available.

Q: When can my family come back?

A: If you prefer, you can have one family member with you at all times, at your physicians discretion. He or she may be asked to step out briefly for procedures (such as X-rays, stitches, etc.), but for your comfort we make accommodations to have your visitor with you. The size of our treatment rooms restricts us to two visitors for each patient, and we ask that you do not bring visitors that are under 12 years old.

Q: How long will this visit take?

A: There are many variables that can affect the actual amount of time spent in the ED. This depends on how many people are in the Emergency Department, what tests are needed, and the severity of your illness, etc. Usually, the shortest visit is one to two hours. The average visit for the Sarah Bush Lincoln ED is 2.74 hours, while the national average is 3.3 hours. The longest can be six to eight hours if your illness is very complicated. We will do everything we can to make you comfortable while you are here. Did you know that Sarah Bush Lincoln Emergency Department beats the national averages on timeliness? Our patients who are discharged get in and out of our department more than 30 minutes before most other US hospitals! And, our patients that are admitted get to the appropriate units in timeframes that are well below the standards set by MHA (Maryland Hospital Association)!

Q: Can I use a cell phone in the ED?

A: Yes. Cell phones no longer disrupt the technology we have in our department, and you are welcome to use them. However, we do ask that you keep your phones on vibrate or silent mode. Please watch for signs, as other departments in the Health Center may have different limitations.

Q: What if I leave before seeing a doctor?

A: If you must leave before seeing a doctor, please notify a nurse or a registration staff member before leaving. The risks of leaving include a worsening of your condition and could lead to permanent disability or death. Also, most insurance companies will not pay for the visit if you do not see a doctor or a physician assistant.

Q: What questions will the staff ask me? And don't you already have that on file?

A: We will ask you many questions to determine why you are seeking emergency services and how we can best help you. We will ask about your medical history, surgical history, allergies, personal information like date of birth, and what medications you are taking. While we do have electronic medical records, we must verify this information every time so that we can provide you with safe, up-to-date medical treatment.

Q: Everyone asks me the same questions. Why don't you pass the information along?

A: The information is passed along, but since the information can have an impact on your evaluation and your treatment, it is verified to keep you safe. Each person treating you has a different job and needs the information for a different reason to provide you with the best care. This may seem repetitive, but we want to make sure we have all the details correct.

Q: I had lab work and X-rays done and I'm still waiting. What is taking so long?

A: We are waiting on test results. X-rays and CT scan interpretations usually take 30 to 60 minutes. Blood work and other labs must be processed by our state-of-the-art Laboratory Services department. The results are sent to us electronically, we usually get these reports in 60 to 90 minutes. However, some tests do take longer. Please be considerate that your emergency doctor sees other patients, some that may be critical, during your care. You may also be waiting for our doctor to talk to your primary care doctor to discuss the results. Your nurse will keep you udpdated on your status, please let us know what we can do for you during your wait.

Q: I want something to eat or drink. Why do the signs tell me not to?

A: We ask that you not eat or drink after your arrival to the ED until your doctor says it is OK. Sometimes food and drink interfere with your evaluation or make your treatment difficult. It is best to wait.

Q: What should I do with my personal belongings?

A: You are responsible for your personal belongings. Please give them to a family member or friend for safekeeping or keep them with you at all times.

Q: If my doctor tells me I should have a test, do I have to have it done?

A: All tests requested in the Emergency Department are used to determine what is wrong with you, and how we can best treat your condition. Please ask your doctor why we are recommending a test and to explain the benefit versus the risk to you. You may refuse any treatment or test. However, if you do, we may not be able to determine what is causing your symptoms and our evaluation of your illness will be incomplete.

Q: All my labs came back and my doctor has talked with me. Can I leave now?

A: Not yet! You must wait for the nurse to discharge you. When the doctor is done discussing the care options with you, he or she will instruct your nurse on your discharge and follow-up instructions. Before leaving, we will obtain another set of vital signs, if warranted, and a nurse will review the written instructions with you and answer any questions you may have. Be sure to follow the discharge instructions, get prescriptions filled and take them as instructed, watch for the warning signs/symptoms that you are taught, and follow up with the doctor you are referred to. If you have a question about your discharge instructions after you leave please call us back at 217-238-4902 and ask to speak to the "Charge Nurse." He/She will look up your instructions, and help you with your questions.

Q: The doctor didn't find anything wrong with me and sent me home. How can that be when I feel sick or pain?

A: The doctor has reviewed your symptoms, and evaluated any tests that may have been completed. The first priority of the Emergency Department is to treat and stabilize life-threatening illness and pain. Your doctor has determined that, while you may have an illness or injury, it is not life-threatening and it does not require hospitalization. You may need additional testing or treatments, that can be provided through a primary care doctor. It is important to follow up with your doctor, or referred specialist, so that you can be appropriately treated.

Q: Will my regular doctor be called?

A: Your emergency doctor may contact your family doctor, if necessary, after all of your lab tests and radiology reports are in. Sometimes they may not need to call your physician, however you may request that your family doctor be contacted at any time.

Q: What if I forget or lose my instructions?

A: Please call the Emergency Department if you have questions about your follow-up care, comments about your emergency care, or if you need further instructions. When calling be sure to let us know when you were seen in the ED.

Q: I have been admitted to the hospital. Why is it taking so long for me to get to a room?

A: After the emergency doctor talks to your primary (or admitting) doctor, we contact the appropriate floor for a room. Occasionally, there is not a bed immediately available in that area. That may mean that those previously admitted must be moved, while some people are waiting to go home, and the rooms must be cleaned. Once we receive your room number we must wait for the nurses to give report, then we can transport you to your inpatient room. Please let us know what we can do to make you more comfortable while you wait. We do have portable phones, in case you need to make phone calls.

Q: Where can I get my prescriptions filled?

A: You can go to any pharmacy with the prescriptions you are given. Prairie Medical Pharmacy is located on the first floor of Sarah Bush Lincoln and is open from 8:30 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. The nearest 24-hour pharmacy is Walgreens in Mattoon.

Q: I can't get my prescriptions filled. Can you give me some samples?

A: No, unfortunately the Emergency Department does not carry samples. There are some local resources that provide help for those unable to get their prescriptions filled (except narcotic pain relievers). Please ask your nurse about these services, we have a list we can provide.