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In an emergency
If you get very sick or badly hurt and need medical care right away, go to a hospital emergency room (ER). There, doctors and nurses can help you even if you have no insurance or ability to pay. If you need medical help where you are, call 9-1-1. Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) will come to you to give basic medical care and usually will drive you in an ambulance to the ER for more care.
Once at the ER, you may need to wait to be seen by a doctor or nurse. ERs do not treat patients on a first-come, first-serve basis. Rather, ERs treat people with the most serious health problems first. So, you may need to wait a long time before it's your turn to be seen. Be patient and keep in mind that you cannot be turned away before you have been seen.
Explore other publications and websites
Can't Pay? You Still Have A Right to Emergency Room Care (Copyright © Legal Aid Society) — It's against the law for a hospital to turn you away from emergency medical care if you can't pay. This brochure describes your legal right to emergency care.
How to Make an Emergency Department Visit a Safe One — Being prepared for an emergency room visit can help your doctors better take care of you. This publication describes which documents to bring with you, if possible, and what types of information are important for your doctor to know.
How To Use Hospital Emergency Rooms Wisely — Sometimes it is easy to decide whether to go to the emergency room, but other times it is not so clear. If you are unsure how to tell if you need to go to the emergency room, this article can help.
Knowing Your Child's Medical History (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — Could you recall vital information about your child's health in an emergency? This article describes what you need to know when going to the emergency room.
Medicare Coverage of Ambulance Services — This booklet explains when Medicare helps cover ambulance services, what Medicare pays, what you must pay, and what you can do if Medicare does not cover your ambulance service.
Recognizing Medical Emergencies — This publication lists the warning signs of a medical emergency. If you or someone you are with experiences these symptoms, it may be time to go to the emergency room.
Your Medicare Coverage — This tool can tell you which services Medicare covers. Just select your state from the drop-down menu and click on a coverage topic to begin.
Connect with other organizations
American College of Emergency Physicians
American Red Cross
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Legal Aid Society
Content last updated May 18, 2010.
Resources last updated May 18, 2010.
A federal government website managed by the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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