The Emergency Department (ED) is the part of the healthcare system that patients with Sickle Cell Disease encounter most often. But, when should you be thinking about going to ED, rather than staying at home, waiting for your next specialist clinic appointment, or seeing your family physician or pediatrician?
If you have nay of the following you should go straight to ED without hesitation:
- Severe headache, drowsiness, or stroke-like symptoms such as weakness down one side of the body or difficulty speaking
- Sever chest pain or difficulty in breathing
- Priapism that has lasted more than 2 hours
When you arrive at ED, remember to inform the triage nurse that you have Sickle Cell Disease. Take with you a list of your current medications. It is always helpful to know what your baseline hemoglobin (Hb) value is, as well as how your Sickle Cell has affected you so far in life. Important things to mention include whether you have ever been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), if you have received blood transfusions, and if you are prescribed Hydroxyurea. You may find it helpful to go with a family member or friend who can assist you. Also, bring with your pain medications, because if there is a long wait to be seen, you then still have something to help your pain. If you a patient of a comprehensive Sickle Cell or Thalassemia centre, don’t hesitate to tell the ED team that as they may wan to speak to your specialist for advice.
In other posts, we will provide more detailed advice about some of the common reasons why patients need to attend ED.