FAQs about Emergency Care

Why must I wait for treatment in the ED?
People wait in the emergency department for many reasons. Some of these include:

  • The sickest patients are seen first
  • Overcrowding due to epidemics such as flu, or critical patients arriving by ambulance
  • Unlike a doctor’s office where appointments are scheduled, many patients may arrive at once
  • Waiting for X-rays and blood test results, some tests take longer than others
  • Waiting for consultations from specialists

How long can I expect to be in the ED?
When you check into to the ED, a nurse will grade your condition by severity. Once in the treatment area, your total stay will depend on your symptoms, illness, and whether a doctor decides you need to be admitted to the hospital. Your stay may be longer if many tests are ordered or you need to be checked after medications have been given.

Why are some patients seen first?
Our first priority is to take care of critical patients with life threatening conditions. ED nurses are specially trained to work in the triage area and can quickly determine who requires an immediate evaluation. They will ask you questions about why you came in and then check your blood pressure, heart rate, respirations, and temperature. You may also have an EKG, X-rays and blood tests, while you wait to see the doctor.

Do long waits affect treatment outcomes?
Our ED nurses and doctors work very hard to make sure no one waits so long that it will affect the severity of illness or injury. Sometimes, patients wait longer than we would like but if you feel your condition has worsened before we provide care, please let someone know. We will evaluate your symptoms again. Ambulances bring patients through a different entrance and some who arrive by ambulance may be placed in the visitor area for completion of triage.