The top 3 things you should pack for the emergency department

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Cairns Hospital emergency department Nurse Unit Manager Samantha Conroy (centre) with Nurse Educator Nicole, left, and Associate Nurse Unit Manager Naomi.

Need to go to the ED and time is short? Emergency department staff share their top recommendations for what you should cram into a bag before heading out the door.

The top three items are designed to make life easier for the patient but also for the treating team, according to Cairns Hospital emergency department Nurse Unit Manager Samantha Conroy.

Item 1: phone charger

‘Definitely pack your phone charger and something to entertain yourself with, either a phone or a book,’ says Sam.

Item 2: Any medications you are on, or a list of your medications

‘A lot of people come in and they don’t know what medications they are on. They may say they take a heart pill and a pill for reflux, but they don’t know the dose.

‘If we don’t have this information then we need to call around pharmacies or try to look at what the patient has been previously prescribed. Sometimes our pharmacists can look up this information on a database. Our doctors do a lot of investigative work to find out what a patient has been prescribed; and this takes time and resources away from direct patient care.

‘If you are on any regular medications then either bring them with you or bring a medication list. This is very helpful for us, especially for people on multiple medications.’

Item 3: Jacket and/or a set of warm and comfortable clothing

‘Hospitals can get cold. This is to slow the spread of bacteria or viruses, which thrive in warm temperatures,’ says Sam.

‘I’d definitely pack a set of comfy clothes because you’re going to be laid up in bed a bit.

‘If someone has been in an accident and we have to cut their clothing, we will give them hospital pyjamas and a little toothbrush and toothpaste to get them by.’

If you’re in doubt about whether to go to the emergency department, or your condition is mild and not life-threatening, Cairns Hospital emergency department staff share these helpful tips:

  • Call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84), available 24/7. 13 HEALTH has qualified staff who can give you advice on symptoms and conditions, who to talk to, and how quickly you should act
  • Telehealth appointment with an online GP
  • Cairns South Urgent Care Clinic, 5b Waker Rd, Edmonton. Walk-in appointments only. Visit their website for opening hours
  • Visit the Queensland Health virtual ED