Nine things to expect during a trip to the emergency room
Learn about the nine things you can expect during an emergency room visit.
When you arrive at an emergency room seeking care for yourself or a loved one, you are trusting them to care for you like family. It is our mission to provide exceptional, compassionate care to every patient, every time. While every emergency room (ER) visit is different, we hope that this information will help you better understand what to expect as a patient. Here are nine things to expect during a trip to the ER.
Visitor guidelines are in place to protect patients, their families and emergency room personnel. In other words, to keep everyone safe. As such, these guidelines may be subject to change for a variety of reasons, including extreme weather events or a pandemic.
When you arrive
When you arrive at the ER, a member of our care team will evaluate your illness or injury and ask questions to get a better idea of your condition. This is called triage and will allow us to better care for you and start your treatment plan right away.
We appreciate your patience during this time and throughout your visit. While we try to see patients in the order they arrive, patients who arrive after you may be placed in a treatment room first, based on the severity of their illness.
At times, patients may be asked to return to the emergency room lobby, where a member of our care team will recheck you and keep you updated about next steps. Always tell our staff if there is a change in how you are feeling.
Please check with your care team before:
- Eating or drinking
- Using the restroom (a urine sample may be needed for testing)
Registration may take place at the beginning or toward the end of your emergency room visit. A member of our registration team will visit with you. They will ask for your insurance and identification while maintaining your privacy.
ER wait times
A visit to the ER can often take several hours. We know that your time is valuable, and we will make every effort to examine, treat and discharge you as quickly as possible. Our focus is to keep you safe and comfortable.
Here are just a few of the reasons that your visit may take longer than anticipated:
- Numerous patients may arrive at the same time
- Patients may be arriving at the ambulance entrance, which cannot be seen from the lobby
- All exam areas may be occupied by patients undergoing medical treatment
- Many medical tests take over an hour to process and receive results
- Your ER physician may seek consultation from a specialist, depending on your illness or injury
Your medical screening and treatment plan
You can feel comfortable knowing that our physicians and nurses are specialists in emergency medicine. During your visit, you will receive a medical screening exam from either a physician, physician assistant (PA) or advanced nurse practitioner (ARNP). This exam will include a review of your vitals and medical history.
After your exam, you may need to have blood work, X-rays, CT scans or other medical tests to guide your treatment. Your medical team will work together to keep you updated with the expected wait times.
You will be escorted to a treatment area based on your screening exam. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask a member of your care team.
Your provider will review all test results when they are completed and will then determine a diagnosis and talk with you about the best plan for your care.
We are proud to promote safety and battle the opioid crisis within our community. For the safety of our patients, we will follow the common practices below:
- Oral pain medication is offered first, prior to intravenous opioids.
- Chronic pain episodes are addressed with non-opioid medications and other non-medication treatments. You may be referred to a pain specialist to help manage your pain.
- The emergency room does not fill prescriptions for patients who run out of pain medication.
All X-rays and CT scans are read by a board-certified radiologist. You can access the details of your visit and test results in the MyHealthONE patient portal.
Discharge and follow-up
If you are being discharged from the emergency room (as opposed to being admitted to the hospital), your nurse will provide you with follow-up instructions and any prescriptions you may need to have filled. The nurse will explain these materials and answer any questions you may have about your care or treatment. The nurse will also remove any IVs that may have been placed during your stay. Please be patient as this process may take some time.
If you have any questions during your ER visit, your care team will be happy to answer all of them throughout your stay.