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ER waiting room

Wait times in the emergency room (ER) can be very long, especially if your chief complaint is for something like a runny nose that is not an actual emergency.  So if you do go to the ER for all your health needs without a second thought, follow these helpful tips to show the ER staff you are really sick and need to be taken to a room immediately:


  1. Ask for a vomit bag. Repeatedly dry heave and spit into it in the waiting room.  Create a scene.  Make the staff know you could vomit at any moment.  After you spit two or three times in it, ask for a new bag.
  1. Tell the triage nurse “I typically have a high tolerance for pain.”  They’ve never heard anyone say that.  Ever.  If you are in pain and have a high pain tolerance, it must be bad.  Report pain level greater than 10/10 to let them know you’re serious.
  1. Report going to 3 other ERs in the past few days for the same complaint without successful management of pain.  Tell them you need their best doctor to properly treat you.
  1. Tell them your primary care doctor advised they report to the ER immediately.  ER staff roll out the red carpet when they hear that.  If your doctor said you need admission, tell them right away.  Just ignore the fact that your primary care doctor was too lazy to do a direct admit and dumped you on the ER staff.
  1. Tell them you need to leave by a certain time today for other life obligations.  Your true medical emergency is not as important as taking kids to practice.  ER staff understands and will whisk you to a room and personally see to it your deadlines are met.  Patient satisfaction after all!
  1. Report your complaint as developing over several months.  This way you prove you can handle it when it is not a big deal, so you showing up at 2 AM means it is getting serious.

  1. Tell them you googled your symptoms, learned your diagnosis, and need a contact isolation room.
  1. Call an ambulance.  Nobody calls an ambulance unless absolutely necessary, so if you do, you are guaranteed immediate rooming and attention, even for a sprained ankle.
  1. If driving yourself, pull into the ambulance bay, put the car in park, then lay on the horn.  The ER staff will never figure out you just successfully navigated traffic, stop lights, and turning, but you suddenly cannot even open the car door.
  1. Did they refuse to let you lay in a bed while waiting for a room?  Show them you are truly ready by laying on the floor.  Do this within 5 minutes after triage.
  1. Bring pillows, blankets, chargers, and snacks from home.  Nothing says “emergency” like being prepared.
  1. Threaten to sue if you die while in the waiting room.  Hospitals go great lengths to avoid lawsuits.  The simple threat  will expedite your care.
  1. Tell them the pain was relieved by taking 2 of your family member’s nitro tabs.  Wait, this might be legit!

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I have been working in healthcare since 2008. I have vast clinical experience in retrieving blankets and pillows, counting respirations for a full minute, raising the head of the bed to exactly 30 degrees, scrubbing back in to surgery after touching something that isn't blue, and calling patients with positive STD tests. I am motivated by free food in the nurse's lounge, patients standing outside their rooms staring as I pass, and my student loan company. Someday I hope to write a prescription for common sense.