Frequently Asked Questions
about the Emergency Room
Question: Why are some people seen sooner than others?
Answer: We are committed to providing you with excellent patient care, no matter what your illness or injury. Quick Look/Triage nurses will evaluate each patient and determine the general severity of illness or injury. Because our first priority is to save lives, the most severely injured or ill patients will be seen first. Also, you may be waiting for a specific treatment room, diagnostic test, lab result, or a return phone call from your physician. If you are asked to wait but begin to feel worse, please tell the nurse right away.
Question: Is paperwork more important than my care?
Answer: We will never delay care to complete paperwork. The registration interview is a very important part of your visit. Our patient services representative must create/identify your patient history file that will issue a medical record number and account number specific to you. These numbers are then sent electronically to the Laboratory, Medical Imaging (X-ray), Blood Bank and remain your specific lifetime numbers. It is important that these professionals take the time to enter the information accurately. Our Health Information Management Services (Medical Records) department will maintain all records related to this visit for many years. When you arrive, we will get only the information necessary to establish a personal medical record and identification armband.
Question: Why can’t I eat or drink while I’m waiting?
Answer: You might be asked to refrain from eating or drinking because your physical condition may require testing or surgery. After the physician evaluates you, please check with the physician or your nurse about eating or drinking.
Question: How long does treatment take?
Answer: If you have a complicated health problem, you may be in the Emergency room for many hours. Your health problem may require numerous tests and your doctor may need to consult with specialists.
If your illness or injury is life-threatening, it may take several hours to stabilize you condition. There are many services available in the Emergency department, but the number of patients needing these services may also create a delay.
If you have a serious illness or injury, such as a heart attack or stroke, you may need to be admitted to the hospital for ongoing care.
In the event that the hospital is full, there may be a delay until a room becomes available. You will be cared for in the Emergency department until your room is ready.
Lastly, there may be times when the physician determines that there is no life-threatening condition and may refer you to your own physician for more diagnostic testing.
Question: Why did I have to wait when the staff did not look busy?
Answer: Staff and physicians are waiting for diagnostic test results and often can't proceed with other treatment or diagnosis until the test results are available.
Question: How can I get my medical records if I need them?
Answer: You can pick up copies of you medical records from Health Information Management services (Medical Records) at your Banner facility. Please call in advance, so your records can be prepared for you. You will need to sign a release of information form before receiving the records.
X-rays can be picked up from the Medical Imaging department at your Banner facility.
Question: Why can’t you tell me what this will cost?
Answer: Unless a diagnosis is performed, we cannot tell you exactly what the estimated cost will be. After the physician evaluation occurs, he or she dictates a report describing your care. Once the report is transcribed, charges are electronically posted to your account. The charges can be obtained in about two to three days after your visit. Be advised that along with the hospital bill, you may also receive bills from the Emergency department physician group, radiologist and pathologists (lab).
Question: Who can help me if I have a concern or would like to comment about my care in the Emergency room?
Answer: We welcome your questions and concerns - they help us improve our care. If you do not feel comfortable talking with the staff who treat you, you can speak with the Service Excellence coordinator, charge nurse, Emergency department manager or director.
Question: Why can't I get any medical advice or information over the phone when I call?
Answer: In compliance with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and in an effort to maintain the safety and confidentiality of patients being treated in the Emergency department, we will not provide information regarding whether or not a patient is here, specific treatment provided, or discharge plans. If you know a specific person is being treated in the Emergency room, you may ask for them and they can provide the information as requested.
Unlike your primary doctor, the Emergency department staff is not familiar with your medical history, general health, or health care concerns; therefore we cannot provide accurate information related to treatment or diagnosis over the phone. We will always be glad to see you in person in the Emergency department.