When You See the Doctor

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In most health care settings, your time with the doctor will be limited. This is especially true of the emergency department, where the goal is to address your immediate crisis and help make you stable until you can see your regular health care provider.

Be prepared to briefly describe your current pain problem. Include:

  • Location of your pain;
  • Its intensity on a scale of ten;
  • When this pain flare began;
  • Anything that may have recently aggravated your pain;
  • What helps and what makes it worse;
  • Medications that have helped your pain before;
  • How it feels. Here are some words you might use to help the staff understand what you feel:
    • aching
    • nagging
    • stabbing
    • burning
    • numb
    • tender
    • sharp
    • penetrating
    • gnawing
    • radiating
    • throbbing
    • tingling
    • electrical

Once the doctor understands your immediate problem, he or she will do one of several things. This may be:

  • Admission to the hospital,
  • Referral to a specialist to see you in the ER, or
  • Discharge and treatment as an outpatient.

Treatment as an outpatient may include short-term treatment that involves medication or other therapies. You also should be offered a referral to a doctor or clinic so that you can follow up. If you have a regular provider, the ED will send a copy of your record to him or her for follow up.

This information should not be used as a substitute for necessary consultations with a qualified health care professional to meet your individual needs. Always consult a medically trained professional with questions and concerns you have regarding your medical condition.