Adventist Health

Guide to Emergency Care

Adventist Health emergency rooms

To aid you during your Emergency Room (ER) visit with us, we developed this guide to make your visit as satisfying and worry-free as possible.

Our goal is to care for you and your family in a safe, competent, caring and timely manner. Because of our vision to be the best place to receive care, our average time to see a healthcare provider is 30 minutes or less. Naturally that time may vary depending on the number of patients we are caring for and the severity of their conditions.

In this guide, you will find information about the Emergency Room process. If your condition changes while you are waiting, please let your nurse know immediately. If you are waiting and need more information, please ask us. Your emergency care team is there to help.

To speed up your ER visit, try to bring the following:

  • A list of your medications
  • A list of your current and past medical diagnoses, conditions or surgeries
  • Immunization records

The staff was pleasant and courteous to my mother. She did not fully understand the situation, but they took their time to explain what was happening.

Step 1: Sign in

Once you arrive, please sign in with a staff member and have a seat. A nurse will call you to a private area for your evaluation.

Step 2: Evaluation (triage)

Your health condition will be checked during your evaluation through a process called "triage." An evaluation includes at a minimum:

  • Blood pressure
  • Pulse
  • Respiration rate
  • Past medical history
  • Chief complaint that brings you to the ER
  • Possibly a physical exam, depending on your condition

This evaluation helps us determine which patients are to be treated first. A patient whose condition is life-threatening will be top priority. Often blood tests, medical imaging and other studies are ordered and possibly drawn at this time to help your ER provider diagnose your condition quickly and accurately. Once your evaluation is completed, your next step will be to wait for a "bed" or "chair" assignment.

Step 3: Patient care bed assignments

Once you are evaluated, you will be assigned to a bed or chair in the appropriate care area for your condition and treatment. Not every patient receives a traditional ER bed. Some conditions are better served by a stretcher, chair or recliner. Additionally, the bed may be behind a curtain or in a room. When you go to your bed, you will be asked to put on a patient gown before your examination.

The busiest care time in the ER is from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. During this time, the wait for a bed may be longer than usual. Room placement can be immediate or may take several hours depending on the volume of patients.

You also may be asked to wait in the reception area until the results of your tests are received. Remember, we respect your privacy and are committed to your needs. If you have a particular need that we have not anticipated, please ask about it.

Step 4: Your care

Once your treatment has begun, the length of time you are here will vary depending on your condition and the number of patients in the ER at the time. Your doctor or nurse may order tests, including blood work and X-rays that can take from one to four hours to process. Your doctor may also order additional tests after receiving the first set of results.

If you need more information about your wait, please ask your nurse. Your nurse and doctor will identify themselves to you, care for you and check you at least every two hours to closely watch for any changes in your condition. They will explain the tests they’re doing, their plan for your treatment, answer any of your health questions and check on any changes in your condition or questions you may have.

ER doctors and other team members will give you immediate treatment based on your condition and test results. However, if medical imaging tests, such as CT scans or X-rays, have been performed, we want your radiologist — a medical doctor specially trained to read medical images — to provide input on your treatment. If your treatment changes after the reading, we will contact you. Some of your lab tests may require several days for results to arrive, and we will again contact you with any changes to your diagnosis or treatment plan based on these results.

During your visit, remember to help us manage your pain and help you feel safe by letting us know what your pain level is and any questions or concerns you have.

  • Time to see doctor or doctor's assistant: 15–30 minutes once you are in a bed
  • Blood tests: Up to 2 hours
  • X-rays: Up to 2 hours
  • Urine tests: Up to 1 hour
  • CT (CAT) scan/ultrasound: Up to 4 hours

Step 5: Your next step

If you need to be admitted to the hospital: Before you can be admitted, hospital staff will need to identify a room for you and ensure the room and staff are ready for you. The time it takes to receive a hospital room is based on the hospital's census, which is the total number of patients in the hospital. It also takes time to clean and prepare rooms for new patients. Patients often wait one to four hours for their hospital room to be prepared for them. During this time, your care will continue in the ER, so feel free to let your nurse know your needs.

If you need to be transferred: If your condition requires us to transfer you to another care facility, your care team will contact the facility to see if there is a room and a physician on staff available to accept a new patient. Then, we will arrange your transportation by ambulance. This process may take several hours, but your care will continue. If your condition is critical, the transfer process will be faster. Please note that previous diagnostic steps may be repeated at your destination hospital, depending on your care needs.

If you are ready for discharge: ER physicians will let you know what they have learned from your exam and diagnostic tests. If your lab results are not available at the time of your discharge, you might not receive a final diagnosis. We will refer you to the proper place for follow-up care — usually with your primary care physician or a specialist, depending on your condition. Medications and care at home will be explained. Again, please ask questions if you are unsure about the instructions you receive.

Step 6: Check out

After you are treated and released from the ER, we will need to confirm all of your information, collect your copayment, if applicable, and answer any last questions. Please remember that accurate information is vital in case we need to contact you with additional information after your discharge. We hope you will return if emergency care is needed and recommend us to others as the best emergency care provider.