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What to Expect in the ER

Emergency room

What will happen when I arrive in the Emergency Department?

A greeter will welcome you to the Emergency Department and ask you for your name, date of birth and the reason for your visit. Shortly thereafter, you will be called into a private room where you will be evaluated by the triage nurse.  The triage nurse will ask you questions and perform an assessment to determine how serious your condition is. Our nurses have special training to recognize subtle signs that help determine a triage level. This triage system prioritizes care as follows:

Level 1 – Immediate; life threatening
(Example: someone whose heart has stopped or someone who is not breathing)
Level 2 – Emergency; could become life threatening
(Example: someone involved in a major accident with severe life threatening injuries or someone who is having difficulty breathing)
Level 3 – Urgent; not life threatening
(Example: someone with abdominal pain)
Level 4 – Semi-urgent; not life threatening
(Example: someone with an earache or a minor cut requiring sutures)
Level 5 – Non-urgent; needs treatment when time permits
(Example: someone with minor symptoms or needing a prescription renewal)

How long will my wait time be?

There are several factors which will determine what your wait time will be. These include how busy the department is at the time, the number of patients and the severity of their conditions as well as the severity of your condition.  Ambulances frequently arrive at the ambulance bay, an area located in the back of our Emergency Department. If the medical needs of those patients are more urgent than those of the patients in the waiting room, then the ambulance patients will be seen first.

To help expedite your visit while you are waiting for a treatment room to become available, the nurse may arrange for certain lab tests and/or x-rays to be done based on your illness or injury.  This is meant to save time, as the Physician will be able to treat you more quickly if the test results are readily available.

Why are patients who arrived after me being seen before me?

The Emergency Department does not function on a first come, first served basis. The services provided are designed to make sure that patients with the most critical needs receive care first.  PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE WITHOUT BEING SEEN BY A PHYSICIAN.  Just because you may not have the most critical need in the Department does not mean you don’t require care. We understand that waiting can be frustrating, but your health is important to us. Our goal is to treat everyone as quickly as possible.

Remember: We are here to serve you!  We in the Emergency Department want to provide the best patient experience possible and will work to get your life back to normal as quickly as possible.