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What Happens in the ER

An Emergency Room Visit
No one wants to make a trip to the Emergency Room (ER).  We hope that understanding the ER process will make your visit a little easier.

When you enter the ER, you will be greeted by a triage nurse who has special training to assess how quickly you need treatment. In order to understand your medical needs, the triage nurse will take several vital signs such as blood pressure and temperature. The nurse will ask questions about the reason for your visit, and assess your pain level.  In order to provide the best care, it is important that you answer all questions accurately and completely.  If you suspect a stroke or heart attack, tell the nurse immediately.

In the Emergency Room it’s important that the most critical patients first. Patient with life-threatening conditions need immediate attention, and so something patients with less urgent symptoms have to wait, regardless of arrival time.

Waiting Area
If the triage nurse determines you do not have a life-threatening illness, you may be asked to wait in the main lobby or minor treatment area until an examination room is available.  If you do have to wait, a nurse will be nearby to answer questions and monitor your condition.  If at any time you feel that your condition is getting worse, please alert the nurse.

Examination Room
In the exam room you will receive further screening by one of our board-certified emergency medicine physicians.  In some cases you may be seen by a physician assistant (PA) or nurse practitioner (NP), however a physician is available at all times to review the care provided.

Additional testing and treatments will be performed as indicated by your initial exam.  These studies may take some time but are necessary to complete your treatment plan.  During this time, it may seem that you are just waiting, however the ED team is working together to determine the best treatment for you.

Final Step
Once you are seen by an ED physician, one of the following options will occur:

You are discharged with written instructions:

  • The discharge nurse will go over printed instructions and prescriptions recommended by the ED physician.
  • Ask questions about anything you do not understand.
  • You may be referred to a specialist or asked to follow up with your primary care physician.
  • Should your condition change or worsen, return to the ED or see your physician immediately.
  • Request a school or work absence excuse before you leave.

You are admitted to the hospital:

  • Your illness or injury may require admission.
  • Once your admission is processed, you will be transported to an available bed by a nursing staff member.