Banner Health
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What to Expect

We understand that a visit to the emergency room (ER) can be stressful. This guide will explain what to expect at a Banner Health Emergency Department to help you feel more prepared.

What to expect

1. Triage

Upon arrival, you'll receive an identification number and bracelet at the registration desk. A nurse will ask the reason for your visit, about your symptoms and may take your vitals. This helps prioritize patients based on their condition so that the sickest patients are seen by the provider first.

2. Registration

This is completed sometime during your visit and before leaving the emergency department.

3. Treatment

Patients with severe emergencies will be seen immediately. 

Some of our facilities have Fast Track areas to treat minor illnesses or injuries. Others may be asked to remain in the waiting area until a bed is available. Let staff know if your symptoms worsen. Tests may be ordered for diagnosis and treatment. 

The emergency department has a specialized team that works under a physician's guidance to provide treatment. Team members may include a registered nurse, physician assistant, registered nurse practitioner, medical or radiology technician, physical therapist, ED technicians, respiratory therapist or social worker. In pediatric situations, a child life specialist may also be involved.

4. Re-Evaluation

After treatment, your doctor will decide if you can go home (discharge) or need to be admitted to the hospital. 

5. Going home 

If discharged, you'll receive after-care instructions, including follow-up with your doctor.

Tips to reduce anxiety

To help you prepare for a visit to the ER, here are some guidelines that can help you reduce anxiety and have a positive experience.

  • Prepare an emergency folder: Keep this folder easily accessible and take it with you to the ER. Put a note on your refrigerator with the location of this folder for paramedics, in case your condition prevents you from getting it. This folder should include the following information:
    • A list of current medications and dosages
    • Allergies
    • Your doctor's contact information
    • Emergency contacts
    • Medical history
    • Insurance information
    • Advanced health care directives (if you have them)
    • A neighbor’s phone number, if you need them to take care of your animals or make phone calls for you. 
  • Bring distractions: Pack a book, music and headphones or puzzle books to help pass the time while waiting.
  • If you are admitted to the hospital: Be prepared to send personal items and anything of value home.
  • Have a support person: If possible, bring a friend or loved one to advocate for you and help manage stress.
  • Ask questions: Don't hesitate to ask for clarification if you don't understand something.

Frequently Asked Questions

A visit to the Emergency room is – hopefully – not something you do often. Here are some answers to some of your most frequently asked questions.

Why are some people seen sooner than others?

We are committed to providing 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 doctor. If you are asked to wait, but begin to feel worse, please tell the nurse right away.

Is paperwork more important than my care?

We 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 maintains all records related to this visit for many years. When you arrive, we get only the information necessary to establish a personal medical record and identification armband.

Why can't I eat or drink while I'm waiting?

You might be asked not to eat or drink because your physical condition may require testing or surgery. After the doctor evaluates you, please check with your nurse about eating or drinking.

How long does treatment take?

  • 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 your 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.
  • There may be times when the doctor determines there is no life-threatening condition and may refer you to your own physician for more diagnostic testing.

How can I get a copy of my medical records?

You can pick up copies of your medical records from Health Information Management services (Medical Records) at the Banner Health facility where you were seen for your emergency. 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 the Banner facility where your x-ray was done.

Why can't I get any medical advice or information over the phone?

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.

In compliance with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), 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.