A: The holidays are notorious for over indulging on food, overexertion while shoveling snow, and high levels of stress. Unfortunately, this puts many people in the emergency room needing immediate medical care. What happens in the emergency room when the hospital is understaffed because the doctors and staff are on vacation and they're short-staffed? Your care may suffer. Here are 5 important tips to help you through the holidays if you wind up in the emergency room: 1. Make sure you are seen by an attending emergency room doctor. An attending is a doctor who has completed all of his postgraduate training, and is now working for the hospital. Most emergency rooms are staffed by doctors-in-training, called residents, and are supposed to be supervised by a senior physician. If you are seen by the resident doctor, you should ask to also be personally evaluated by the attending physician. 2. If you are able, ask lots of questions. "Why do I need this test," "What is the purpose of this medication," "Are there any alternatives to treat me, other than what you are recommending?" "What will happen if I choose not to have the treatment?" Do not accept what is given to you blindly. 3. If you have x-rays, an MRI scan or a CAT scan, ask whether the attending radiologist has read the films. Do not rely on the radiology resident in the emergency room to read the films. "Oh, but the attending isn't in now, he reads it the next day." No good. If the attending radiologist isn't available, ask the emergency room doctor to read the films himself. 4. If you are given medication, either in pill form or by intravenous line, you must ask if there's the potential for an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions can kill you. You must ask. 5. If you are allergic to any medication, make sure the emergency room staff notes it on your chart, and make sure you are given an 'allergy bracelet' to let everyone know about your allergies. In practically every hospital, allergy bracelets are available to warn hospital staff about a patient's allergies. Don't rely on a note in your chart to inform the doctors and hospital staff about your allergy. Veteran New York malpractice lawyer Gerry Oginski says "Keeping these tips in mind while in the emergency room will minimize your risk of being a medical malpractice victim during this holiday season."