When You Need Emergency Care
What to expect when you come to the ER
Even under the best of circumstances, going to the ER can be stressful. Here are some answers to common questions about visiting the ER.
What determines my wait time?
- Triage Nurses evaluate each patient by severity of illness
Trained in patient assessment, a Triage Nurse makes the call about who’s seen when in the ER. Life-threatening injuries and illnesses are treated immediately. And all conditions are weighted by urgency according to the Emergency Severity Index, a five-level measurement system for patient assessment.*
- Admissions affect scheduling
The process for admitting each patient takes time. The number of beds available for admission determines how many patients can be evaluated at any given time.
- Testing times vary
The number of tests run simultaneously affects wait times. Some tests yield results quickly, while others may take up to an hour.
- Patient volume is a factor
We can’t always forecast patient volume, and we certainly can’t predict when critical events, like heart attacks or strokes, may occur.
All of these factors contribute to determining your wait time.
How do you determine whether a patient is admitted?
ER and primary care physicians work together to decide if someone should be admitted into the hospital. If the patient doesn’t have a primary care physician, the ER physician then consults with a hospital staff physician, also known as a hospitalist.
When should you come to the ER?
We’re here to see everyone, to treat any injury or illness 24/7. There are, however, times when your primary physician might be a better option, particularly if you have a chronic condition. Of course, if you have a medical emergency, don’t hesitate. Call 9-1-1 right away.
When to Visit the ER
According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, you should come to the ER if you have any of the following warning signs:
- Chest pain or pressure
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Sudden or severe pain
- Coughing or vomiting blood
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Sudden dizziness, weakness or changes in vision
- Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
- Changes in mental status, such as confusion
- Evaluation of an assault, physical or sexual abuse
If you experience any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.
* Endorsed by the Emergency Nurses Association and the American College of Emergency Physicians