What You Need to Know About Your Visit to the ER
By Janet Frank
May 4, 2017
Updated Oct 25, 2023
5 min read
Most patients who come to the Emergency Room, also known as the Emergency Department, will be asked to wait after reviewing their condition with a triage nurse. Patients need to remember what they do in the waiting room may impact the rest of their visit:
An average Emergency Department stay is 3 to 5 hours. A visit may be more or less depending on the tests and plan of care the physician chooses for each patient. Circumstances such as critical patients who come to the Emergency Department unexpectedly or a large volume of patients can increase the length of your visit.
Radiology, labs, or any other tests done in the Emergency Department take an hour or more to complete. All tests must be completed before the physician can interpret and determine an appropriate plan of care. Every test a physician adds to the initial plan of care increases the length of your visit. If admitted, it can take 1 to 2 hours to consult with the admitting physician, have the admitting physician evaluate your condition, and receive a bed on the appropriate floor of the hospital.
Some patients may be seen before you, even if they arrived after you did. After the triage nurse assesses each person, he or she makes a determination regarding the severity of each patient. Patients in the Emergency Department are seen by the severity of their symptoms and vital signs and not by wait time. We understand this process can increase or change your wait time and we appreciate your patience. If your condition worsens, please notify the nursing staff.
During your stay, you’ll see many staff members. Each caregiver wears something different:
All of our doctors are board-certified emergency medicine physicians. They can run a variety of tests and procedures in an effort to determine what is causing your symptoms. Occasionally, they’re unable to figure out an exact cause.
In these instances, you’ll be asked to follow up with a physician after leaving the Emergency Department to continue the process of diagnosis and treatment. It’s extremely important that you follow Emergency Department discharge instructions.