Regional Medical Center of San Jose
Regional Medical Center of San Jose offers world-class healthcare to residents throughout the greater San Jose community.
408.259.5000

What to Do When a Patient Refuses to Go to the ER

Emergency care services can save the lives of patients who suffer serious medical problems, but what happens when a patient refuses to go to the hospital? Some patients refuse emergency care simply because they don’t want to be a burden to others, while others may feel that the medical emergency will go away by itself. As a concerned family member, friend, or bystander, there are a few steps you can take to encourage the patient to go to the emergency care department at Regional Medical Center of San Jose.

Explain Your Reasoning
Use a calm tone of voice and non-judgmental language to explain to the patient why you feel he or she should be seen at a hospital. You might point out some of the symptoms you’ve noticed, such as impaired movement or slurred speech. You could also try asking the patient why he or she doesn’t want to go to the hospital. Then, offer your assistance in resolving these obstacles.

Contact Family Members
If you aren’t related to the patient, it may be helpful to contact the patient’s immediate family members. Their efforts to convince the patient to seek care may get better results. You could also offer to call the patient’s primary care physician.

Call 911
In most cases, it’s preferable to simply call 911 and request Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Watch this featured video to hear an emergency care physician at Regional Medical Center of San Jose explain the role of the EMS team. EMS personnel are trained to handle these types of situations. They can evaluate the patient’s medical condition and try to convince him or her to get medical help. Ultimately, however, the patient does have the right to refuse care. If the EMS team is successful in their efforts to convince the patient, the patient can be brought to the ER right away. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to stay with the patient in case his or her condition worsens.

The emergency care and trauma care teams at Regional Medical Center of San Jose closely coordinate with local EMS personnel to facilitate optimal outcomes for our patients. If you or someone else is experiencing a medical emergency in the San Jose area, please call 911 without delay. General questions about our hospital services are handled by our registered nurses at (888) 762-8881.