Don't Get Ignored in the Emergency Room

Beatrice Vance, 49, died of a heart attack in an Illinois emergency room while waiting more than two hours to be treated.

Authorities found the death so inexcusable, they ruled it a homicide.

The case may be extreme, but it raises serious questions about emergency-room care across the country.

What should you do if you feel a loved one isn't getting the treatment he or she needs in an emergency room?

First talk to the triage nurse.

If that doesn't work, talk with an emergency-room physician on duty.

Once you're getting care, you still need to be vigilant. Don't assume the ER staff will notice immediately if something is wrong. If there's any change in your condition, call for help immediately.

Make sure you know how to call for help. Ask for a call button or how to call for attention if needed.

Know your doctors and nurses so that you can ask for them by name so you can get assistance more quickly.

Forget about privacy. Leave the curtain or door to your area open -- closing it makes you invisible to the ER staff.

If you get out of bed, make sure you get reconnected to monitors.