This is a general description of what is the hospital admission process in the US and more particularly in Chicago. It may vary from a hospital to another and also according to your personal health situation. You may be required to provide specific documents that are not listed here.
There are two kinds of hospital admissions: those coming through the Emergency Department (ED) after an emergency situation or a scheduled admissions through your doctor’s office for elective surgery or in preparation for childbirth for instance.
In both case, the admission to the hospital can only be done by a doctor. However, it is important to know and to understand that physicians cannot automatically admit patients to any hospital, but only to hospitals where they have “admitting privileges”. Therefore it is important to know where your doctor has those privileges, especially if you target a specific hospital. A physician can transfer his/her patients to another hospital but the admission must still be arranged through a physician who has admitting privileges at that specific hospital.
Once your doctor has admitted you into the hospital, you will have to provide personal information. Be aware that hospitals have their own policies for admitting patients.
Personal information may include: an ID, your social security number, your health insurance card, your contacts details (address, phone numbers, and email address, for example) as well as a family member contact details.
You also will have to fill in and sign forms about your health history as well as consent forms before being able to go to your hospital unit. If you are unable to do it for health reasons, a family member will be asked to do it.
If you have a complex medical history or multiple medications, it might be a good idea to bring with you:
- A list of your medications with names, doses, how and how often you take them.
- A list of your medical problems and list of your allergies (medications and food).
- Your physician’s name and phone numbers.
In a case of a scheduled admission, the physician in charge of your procedure may ask your personal doctor for a medical clearance. For example, if you have allergies, high blood pressure and so on, your personal doctor will send him your patient history with all the medical aspects he needs to know. This will be done before the day of your admission. If you have no specific health problem, your personal doctor will have written a note stating that you are clear of any specific health problem.
On the day of admittance, you just have to go to the hospital admissions and you will have nothing to pay. Invoices will be sent later.
There are two ways to go to the Emergency Room (ER): on your own or after calling 911.
– On your own: We advise you (if possible) to go to the hospital ER where your personal doctor has admitting privileges. He will be then capable to take care of you right away and directly.
– After calling 911: They will bring you to the closest ER from the point of accident. Once in the ER, a triage nurse will determine the level of emergency you are in. Her role is to prioritize patients for medical assessment. Be prepared to wait for a certain amount of time. Then an Emergency Department physician will see you for a first assessment. According to that latter, he may request further assessment to be done by other health professionals. Then the physician determines if an admission is required or not. If yes, the admission is arranged. While you are waiting for the first assessment, your personal information will be asked and you may be required to fulfill forms.
If the ER physician thinks and determines that your health situation is stable, he will probably send you back home with some medications or instructions to follow.
Even in case of high emergency, documents such as your ID, insurance card and Social Security Number will be required. Obviously if your health is in high danger, it will not be requested right away but the day after your admission or the required information will be asked to your closest family member or friend. There is a federal law in the US that said that any person coming in an ED must be treated. Therefore, care cannot be refused to anyone (even if you do not have your ID or insurance card with you). This is also the reason why if your case is a mild emergency, you might have to wait for a long time. You will not have to pay anything up front.
Chicago Hospitals with Emergency Departments
The Northwestern Memorial Hospital Emergency Room is the most central. In case of emergency (after calling 911), patients are often driven there. You will find below a list of Chicago hospitals that have Emergency Rooms.
Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center: Emergency Room
836 W Wellington Ave, Chicago, IL
Children’s Memorial Hospital: Emergency Room Poison Control Center
2345 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
251 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL
Resurrection Medical Center: Emergency Room
S Chicago, Chicago, IL
Weiss Memorial Hospital Emergency Room
4646 North Marine Drive, Chicago, IL