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How to actually prepare for an ER visit: 14 items to pack ahead of time

The reasons we end up in an emergency room are the same reasons we’re short on snacks, extra clothing and medications:  we didn’t expect to be here.

Consider this: A visit may take almost four hours on average, from start to finish. And that’s if a patient isn’t admitted to the hospital, which can take many more hours.

You’ll need essentials. Grab a designated tote bag and start packing:

  • Insurance card or photocopies
  • Medication list – keep an updated list on your smart phone in a notes app for your children and spouse, or take photos of the prescription bottles
  • Bottled water
  • Packaged snacks like granola and protein bars
  • Over-the-counter pain relief. The ER staff can’t give you ibuprofen for your headache, unless you're the patient.
  • Travel pack of tissues
  • Disposable pre-pasted toothbrushes
  • Phone charger
  • Small notepad and pen
  • Socks and underwear
  • Jacket, sweatshirt or small fleece blanket – hospitals are kept cooler to curb bacterial growth
  • Small pillow or neck pillow
  • If your family member is admitted often to the hospital, consider a special bed jacket that keeps them warm and gives medical staff easy access to IV lines and ports.

Store your tote bag in the laundry room, garage or trunk of your car. 

This last item won’t fit in your tote bag but is very important: bring someone with you, especially if you’re the patient. Another set of eyes and ears will help you follow instructions, look out for you and get you home safely.