Steps to Getting Emergency Care

The ED of any hospital functions very differently than any other department. Physicians and clinical staff are on stand-by for any health issue, any time of the day or night.

Here is an account of how a patient can expect to experience emergency care at UMMC Midtown Campus:


Step 1: Preregistration

Upon entering the ED, a patient will first stop at registration and provide basic information such as name, age and social security number. This information is used to start setting up a hospital medical record.

Step 2: Triage

The next step is with the triage nurse. Patients discuss their illness or injury and provide their medical background, including allergies and medications. A patient’s first set of vital signs is gathered at this step as well. Based on the information gathered, patients are assigned a severity level that gives an indication of how quickly the patient needs to be seen.

For example, patients who are experiencing chest pain or signs of stroke are immediately taken back to a room because their medical needs are extremely time-sensitive. Patients with belly pain or who have been involved in a non-life-threatening car accident are given a less acute priority. Patients with cold symptoms, minor injuries or ear pain, will be assigned the lowest severity level. As with most EDs, we follow the standard of care known as the “Emergency Severity Index Algorithm.”

Step 3: Waiting Room or Patient Room

Depending on the severity level, a patient will either be moved to a patient room or back to the waiting room. Patients often ask how long they can expect to wait if they are sent back to the waiting room. Many factors need to be considered, including how busy the ED is at the moment. Once a patient is taken back to a patient room, the wait time depends on the type of tests needed, the time it takes to get test results back and the number of specialty consults that may be needed, with Neurology or Cardiology, for example. The ED experience could last as long as four to six hours.