What Can I Expect When I Go to The Emergency Department?

If you arrive by ambulance or are unconscious, you will be assigned to a patient bed immediately and be treated. If someone else drives you to the emergency department, you will enter the waiting room, where your medical condition will be assessed. You will never be turned away from an emergency department, even if you can’t pay.


When you first arrive, a triage nurse will determine how serious your condition is, based on your symptoms. The nurse may check your vital signs, including temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Someone will collect your name, address, and medical history.


After the initial assessment, you will be placed in an examination area, where an emergency physician will examine you and possibly order tests, such as x-rays, blood, and electrocardiogram (EKG). Your vital signs will be monitored. Nurses and other medical staff will assist you.


If you are critically ill or require intravenous medications or fluids, you may be admitted to the hospital. If you are not seriously ill, an emergency physician will discuss your diagnosis and treatment plan with you before you are discharged. You may receive written instructions regarding medications, restrictions or symptoms that may require a follow-up visit.

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