What to Expect When Visiting the Emergency Room

Sometimes, you might have an illness or an injury that warrants a trip to the hospital. When you go to the emergency department at the hospital, there are a few things that you can expect to happen from the time you check-in and explain your symptoms to the time you leave or are admitted to a room.

Getting There

There are a few methods as to how you can get to the emergency room. Most of the time, you’ll usually drive yourself or have someone take you. However, if you’re experiencing an emergency and you have no one to take you or you feel that you’re unable to drive, then you can be transported via ambulance. If you’re taken by ambulance, then you could be seen sooner than other patients. However, keep in mind that patients are usually seen based on their medical needs instead of by who arrives first.

A nurse will ask you questions and assess your situation. Be prepared to have your vital signs taken and to give a short history of when the symptoms started and if you’ve tried to do anything for the symptoms. Tests will usually be ordered at this time if there are any needed to get a better idea as to what could be happening. After sitting in the triage area, you’ll usually be taken to an exam room where more equipment is located if it’s needed and where you can lie on a bed instead of sitting in a chair. Most of the time, only one person will be able to sit with you in the emergency room while you wait to be seen by the doctor and while you’re treated. You can ask that no one stays in the room with you if you want to maintain your privacy.

Your Exam

Once a nurse has obtained a few details about why you’re at the hospital, you’ll wait to see a doctor who can better assess your condition. Oxygen can be administered as well as an IV if either one is needed. Sometimes, you might have to change into a gown so that the proper tests can be performed. Various monitoring devices could be connected to your fingers or other areas of your body to monitor your pulse, blood pressure, or heart rate. If your symptoms aren’t as severe as others who are in the department, then you might have to wait for a short time before you’re seen, which is something that you should expect when making your visit.


There are numerous types of tests that can be performed while you’re at the hospital. Common tests include blood work to determine if there are any abnormalities with your blood levels, X-rays, a CT scan, and an MRI. The type of test conducted will depend on your complaints. Waiting on the results from the tests could take the longest time compared to the other things that take place while you’re in the hospital. When your doctor receives the results, a treatment plan is created based on the severity of your condition. Sometimes, you might need to be admitted to the hospital for further testing. At times, you could be referred to another doctor to follow up with your diagnosis. Most treatments can be performed in the emergency room, such as sutures if you have a cut or wrapping an area of your body if you have a sprain or another issue with your muscles or joints.