Within hospitals are an Emergency Care department created for the sole purpose of providing immediate treatment for resuscitation, urgent surgery, medication, or a need to be diagnosed. A trusted ER will follow specific procedures to determine the most urgent care for saving lives and ensure each patient receives necessary medical attention. Below is the list of guidelines emergency care units employ to maintain an efficient process for providing medical attention:

  1. Triage

The triage station is the first stop for patients in need of immediate care. The patient’s medical history and summary of symptoms are documented and assessed. At this stage, a triage nurse determines the patient’s level of condition. The guidelines for categorizing a patient’s needs are resuscitation, emergency, urgent, semi-urgent, or non-urgent. During this wait, patients are encouraged to inform the triage nurse if their symptoms worsen. One visitor may be allowed with the patient at this stage of their evaluation. The waiting time for non-urgent patients will depend on who else is in the waiting room at any given time. A busy emergency room versus a non-busy emergency room makes the difference in a waiting period.

Resuscitation – a patient with a life or death emergency such as multiple trauma, unconscious or not breathing is seen right away

Emergency – life-threatening injuries

Urgent – the patient has already been diagnosed with an illness such as cancer or HIV. A patient whose symptoms could worsen and become an emergency is a high priority.

Semi-urgent – a fever, stomach pains, back pains

Non-urgent – a cough, cold, sore throat

  1. Registration

When a patient registers it is an important process giving the hospital necessary information to create a patient record while providing consent to any prescribed medical treatment the doctor may authorize. During this time it is important to share health insurance information making sure your visit is financially covered. For patients receiving immediate treatment, this process occurs at the most opportune moment presented.

  1. Treatment

Doctors and nurses interact to perform blood and urine tests. If necessary, x-rays or other imaging tests may be requested. At this time it is determined if an IV is needed. Patients may have up to 2 visitors one at a time during the treatment stage of their visit.

  1. Reevaluation

After receiving the results of medical testing, the doctor may consult with the patient’s personal physician or an on-call physician if necessary to assist with diagnosis. At this point, doctors determine if the patient will be admitted to the hospital or allowed to return home once treatment has been provided. The final diagnosis will be shared with the patient during this process.

  1. Discharge

Upon discharge, the patient can expect a written home-care instruction list to follow which will assist with maintaining optimum health. These details could include how to care for a wound or illness, medication recommendations, and follow-up care directions. The follow-up will be with a personal or preferred physician.

The patient can expect to receive information regarding financial assistance if needed. A phone number if the patient has any questions regarding their visit or treatment. This number will most likely include the department where a patient can receive further assistance with written home-care instructions.

No one expects to find themselves in an emergency room waiting for a much-needed diagnosis. However, being prepared for procedures a trusted ER and its physicians and nurses must follow can put the patient at ease for the wait that may occur.