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Emergency Services: Questions & Answers


What happens when I come to the Emergency Department?

A triage nurse will ask you questions to gather information about your illness or injury. The triage nurse may also take your pulse, temperature and other vital signs.

What is a triage nurse?

Triage (pronounced tree-ahzh) is a French word meaning "to sort." The triage nurse is a registered nurse who sorts patients by how sick or seriously injured each is by asking questions. You will be asked what happened to bring you to the Emergency Department. The nurse will look at any injury you may have, take your temperature, and check your breathing, blood pressure and heart rate. By doing these things, the nurse can determine whether your illness or injury is life or limb threatening. This information helps determine who needs to be seen first, second and so on.

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What happens when the nurse is done?

If the patient needs immediate care, he/she will be taken directly to the treatment area. If the patient's illness is less severe, he/she will be taken to the first open room. You may be asked to give the registration clerk information during this time. Your care will not be delayed by registration.

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What is registration?

Registration is how we get important facts about our patients, including current address, phone number and insurance information. Sometimes patients are discharged before some test results are back, and we need to contact the patient with the results afterward. You will be asked to sign a form that gives the emergency department staff permission to care for you and allows the hospital to release information about your medical condition to your insurance company. If you do not have insurance, or if your insurance company will not pay, you are responsible for the bill. However, emergency care will never be withheld based on your ability to pay.

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What happens once I am in a treatment room?

While you are in the treatment room, the emergency staff and doctors will begin diagnosis and medical treatment. They may do tests such as X-rays, blood tests or give you medication. Doctors and nurses work closely together to plan and provide the best care for each patient.

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If I have a private physician or family doctor, can he/she treat me in the Emergency Department?

Your doctor is welcome to call the Emergency Department doctor to discuss your care. Many times, the Emergency Department doctor will call your physician. This communication is helpful for you and your private doctor, giving you the best care at the hospital and after you go home.

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What happens when the Emergency physician says I can go home?

You will be given instructions for your care and recovery. If the doctor decides you need a prescription, that will be given to you as well. Part of your instructions will tell you when and with whom you need to have follow-up care.

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What if I feel bad after I leave?

Follow your after care instructions carefully, but you should always feel free to return to the Emergency Department if you feel your condition is getting worse.

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How can I be better prepared for an emergency in the future?

Although an emergency is unpredictable by definition, there are some things you can do to be better prepared.

  • Keep emergency numbers posted where you can find them quickly.
  • Remember to call 9-1-1 in the event of a life-threatening emergency: an emergency rescue vehicle can take you to the emergency department more quickly and safely than can a friend or family member.
  • Know where the hospital is and how to get there. Study the map and take a test drive from you house to the hospital so you are familiar with the route.
  • Do not delay. Urgent conditions may become life-threatening if they are not treated. It is always wiser to err on the side of caution.

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