Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of common questions and answers received and delivered by our team.  If you have additional questions please feel free to CONTACT US.

+ What should I do if I am not sure I need emergency attention?

First, contact your doctor or care provider to discuss the situation with him or her. If you cannot reach your doctor and still aren’t sure what you should do, it is better to be safe and come to the Emergency Department. Call 9-1-1 if you think your situation is life-threatening or the condition will worsen before you can reach the ED.

+ What is a life-threatening emergency situation?

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) offers a list of warning signs that indicates a medical emergency.

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Upper abdominal pain or pressure
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Heavy or uncontrollable bleeding
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures
  • Sudden or excessive pain
  • Changes in vision
  • Confusion
  • Suicidal thoughts

Emergency Rooms specialize in managing catastrophic illnesses and injuries such as:

  • signs of heart attacks, including chest pain
  • signs of stroke, like sudden onset of numbness in the arms or legs
  • severe shortness of breath
  • poisoning
  • major life- or limb-threatening injuries
  • severe wounds and amputations
  • coughing up or vomiting blood
  • suicidal or homicidal feelings

If you think the situation is life-threatening, don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1 or go to the ED.

+ Should I call an ambulance or drive myself?

No one wants to call an ambulance unnecessarily. However we suggest that you contact an ambulance if the following situations are present:

  • Any condition that interferes with your ability to drive safely
  • The condition could get worse on the way to the hospital
  • You are experiencing:
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Dizziness or confusion
    • You are having a seizure
    • Have experienced a head, neck or back injury
    • Bleeding heavily
    • Showing signs of shock (cold, clammy, pale, weak pulse)

+ What is the difference between urgent care and emergency room?

It's important to understand the differences between emergency rooms (ER) and urgent care centers. If a medical condition is life- or limb-threatening, or involves severe wounds or amputations, patients should go to the ER. Emergency Departments generally are staffed by emergency physicians who are trained to manage all types of emergencies. Emergency Departments typically have a broader range of diagnostic tests available and are more capable of providing specialized medications, infusions and observation services.

It is appropriate to utilize Urgent Care centers for minor ailments or injuries that you might otherwise visit your family doctor for. It is important to understand that Urgent Care centers typically have limited diagnostic and treatment ability so they may have to refer you to an Emergency Department if your symptoms suggest a more serious problem.

+ What is the difference between MD and DO?

MDs and DOs go to different medical schools but cover the same basic curriculum. All emergency physicians at East Central Iowa Acute Care have completed specialized residency training in emergency medicine and are board-certified

+ What is HIPAA?

The HIPAA Privacy Rule specifies national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information.

  • It gives patients more control over their health information.
  • It sets boundaries on the use and release of health records.
  • It establishes appropriate safeguards that health care providers and others must achieve to protect the privacy of health information.
  • It holds violators accountable, with civil and criminal penalties that can be imposed if they violate patients’ privacy rights.
  • And it strikes a balance when public responsibility supports disclosure of some forms of data – for example, to protect public health.

For patients – it means being able to make informed choices when seeking care and reimbursement for care based on how personal health information may be used.

  • It enables patients to find out how their information may be used, and about certain disclosures of their information that have been made.
  • It generally limits release of information to the minimum reasonably needed for the purpose of the disclosure.
  • It generally gives patients the right to examine and obtain a copy of their own health records and request corrections.
  • It empowers individuals to control certain uses and disclosures of their health information.

For more information click HERE

+ What is EMTALA?

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), enacted in 1986, is a federal law that requires anyone coming to an emergency department to be stabilized and treated, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.

For additional information click HERE

+ Why do I have two bills?

One bill is from the hospital for facility fees such as nursing care, medications, blood tests, and x-rays. The second bill is from East Centeral Iowa Acute Care for your physician's time and expertise, as well as any procedures that you needed while in the emergency department.

+ What is a Physician Assistant and/or a Nurse Practitioner?

At St. Luke's you may be seen by a Physician Assitant (PA-C) employed by ECIAC who works under the supervision of one of our physicians. PAs and NPs practice medicine on healthcare teams with physicians and other providers. Our non-physician providers also have specialized training and experience in Emergency Medicine to give you the best possible medical care at all times.

They practice and prescribe medication in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the majority of the U.S. territories and the uniformed services.

You can find out more on PA’s HERE and NP’s HERE