Coming to an emergency room can be an anxious and confusing time. Here's a quick rundown of what you can expect during your visit:
Three Important Steps
- Triage: Upon arrival, the patient is seen by a triage nurse who prioritizes care needs based on symptoms being experienced and how sick or injured the patient is.
- Registration: A registration clerk takes information about the patient's (age, religion, etc.), insurance coverage, and current physicians. A financial counselor may also be present to discuss insurance coverage.
- Medical Care: Every patient is assigned an emergency department nurse. But it's likely the patient will be seen by more than one physician, nurse, and patient care staff member during their stay.
Remember: A specially trained emergency physician is on duty all the time.
You'll meet many different members of our medical team in the emergency room. Each person plays an important role in helping our patients at such a critical time. And if we ever forget to introduce ourselves, please ask.
The Role of Physicians
The attending physician—the physician in charge of all patient care in the Emergency Department—might be involved in a patient's care. But if you have any questions or concerns, generally your physician or nurse is in the best position to help you.
If the patient sees a primary care physician or specialist, we'd like to know. We might want to contact the doctor to help us provide the very best care.
If required, we may also call in a specialist to see the patient.
Our staff social workers are available to help patients with a variety of issues and concerns. So, please let us know how we can help.
Prioritizing Patient Care
- If you notice that other people are being seen before you, it's because we need to treat the sickest patients first.
- If you think you've been overlooked, please ask someone for help. We will update you as often as possible.
- If you think your condition is worsening and you need to be seen right away, ask to be checked by a nurse.
Once You're Admitted
Once admitted, patients are brought back to a room in the treatment area. A nurse collects medical information and answers any questions. The physician in charge of the patient's care stops in and conducts an examination. Blood and x-ray tests might also be performed.
- After the evaluation, our emergency room physicians always discuss treatment plans with the patient (if the patient is alert). We also forward all information to the patient's primary care physician.
- For some common illnesses, we order "lab work" before the patient sees a physician. This helps the physician make medical decisions and start needed treatment more quickly.
- If a patient requires a short period of observation and treatment, he or she may be moved to an observation bed. This can last several hours, with treatment provided by physicians and nurses.
- If the patient has to be admitted to the hospital, the physician discusses the details with the patient and family, and the patient's primary care physician is notified. If the patient doesn't have a doctor, or the doctor isn't affiliated with Kona Community Hospital, an on-call doctor on our staff is assigned.
Here are some other things to think about concerning a stay in the emergency room:
- Pain: Treating pain is important to both patients and our staff. If you feel your pain is not being adequately treated, please let your physician or nurses know.
- Valuables: We ask that any valuables be given to a friend or family member for safe-keeping. If no one is available to watch out for valuables, our staff will arrange for secure storage.
- Visitors: In-room visitors are limited to one per patient (two if the patient is a child). We encourage visitors to remain with the patient unless evaluations or procedures are being performed. Unauthorized visitors must remain in the waiting area and may not enter treatment areas.
- Food: Patients shouldn't expect to eat or drink anything while in the emergency room, because it may interfere with care. For visitors, there are vending machines in the waiting area as well as a cafeteria on the first floor of the hospital.
If you are allowed to go home after treatment, written discharge instructions will be provided. Follow-up recommendations from a member of our staff or a specialist will be noted on the form. Once home, if symptoms worsen or change, the patient should contact their primary care physician—or return to the Emergency Department.