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National Patient Safety Agency

Emergencies - about emergency admissions

If you find yourself in A&E, knowing what to expect could really help you stay safe. And if you’re with someone who is very ill or injured, you’ll be in a better position to look out for them. Just read our tips below.


  • Carry a list at all times of any medical conditions and drug allergies you have, as well as the medication, vitamins and herbal supplements you’re taking.
  • Keep your GP’s details on you. This will help hospital staff get hold of your medical records.
  • When you arrive at A&E, find out whether or not you’re allowed to eat or drink.
  • Remember to tell your nurse or doctor if you are, or think you might be, pregnant.
  • Ask the doctor to explain all the treatment options open to you. If you’re going to need an operation, make sure your name and the operation you’re having are recorded correctly, in words you understand, on the consent form that you have to sign.
  • Ask the doctor what the risks of the operation are.
  • If you live alone, ask before you leave the hospital if you should have someone with you at home.
  • If you’re given a prescription or medication to take after leaving the department, make sure you know what it’s for, and for how long and how frequently you need to take it.
  • Find out who you should contact if you feel unwell again after leaving hospital.


'I can see patients are anxious’

Titus Ngui, A&E nurse, on why patients need to understand what is happening to them.


"When patients come into A&E, their first concerns are usually when a doctor will be able to see them and how long they may have to stay. Apart from that they are obviously keen to know what is wrong with them. There are frequently questions from the patient’s family too. A big part of my job is to keep waiting family and friends informed, comfortable and at ease.


Titus Ngui, A&E nurse

"If I can't answer a question myself, I will always direct the patient to someone that can. I always prefer them to ask.


When I take someone's blood pressure, for example, I can often see from a patient’s facial expressions that they are anxious and don’t understand the readings. I'm always careful to explain what I'm doing so they understand what is happening. If you're unsure about anything as a patient you must ask."


It's OK to ask if they've cleaned their hands

Germs can cause infections and hospital staff take hand hygiene seriously. Using a disinfectant handrub kills almost all bacteria in just 30 seconds, so your doctor or nurse won’t mind you asking if they’ve remembered to use it.


Please Ask about Accident & Emergency