You may not start the day assuming you have to go to the emergency room, but it is always helpful to know that someone is available to provide emergency care that can address injuries and illnesses. Many people do not go to the emergency room regularly, so you need to know what to expect. If you need to take a trip to the ER, what are a few expectations you should have?

1. Emergency Rooms Work Using a Triage System

Most emergency rooms are busy at best and overwhelmed at worst.  In order to see all the patients and achieve the best outcome, they often use a triage system whereby the most urgent conditions are cared for first.  What this means is that just because you arrived first doesn’t mean you are going to be seen first; a heart attack or stroke will likely be seen before a cough or extremity injury, for example.  Therefore, unless you arrive with an immediately life-threatening emergency, be prepared to wait until the right time to be seen with respect to all the other patients.  Fortunately, not all ER’s are overwhelmed.  For example, at CapRock Health, patients are almost always seen by the doctor right away, regardless of their symptoms. 

2. You Will Be Examined by a Provider

All patients seen at an Emergency will be seen by a Licensed Provider, meaning either a doctor or an Advanced Practice Nurse or Physician’s assistant. The provider will always start by asking a series of questions to understand the history of the condition, such as what symptoms you are experiencing, when they developed, what makes them better, and what makes them worse, etc.  This is actually the most important part of the diagnostic process.  Therefore, it is important to provide the most complete and accurate information possible.  Access to prior medical records and medication lists, if needed, is extremely helpful.

 The doctor will also perform a physical examination to identify any findings that could help make the diagnosis.  After the history and physical examination, the provider usually provides their initial thoughts and any recommendations about what they feel your diagnosis is, or which tests or treatments they recommend next.  The training and skill of the provider is critical for making the right diagnosis and treatment plans.  Therefore, at CapRock Health, you will always only be seen by a board certified doctor who specializes in Emergency Medicine.

3. Diagnostic Testing May be Needed

After completing a history and physical examination, the doctor will let you know if they feel any testing is needed. For example, the doctor might decide to draw some blood or order an imaging scan, such as an x-ray or CT scan. As opposed to a doctor’s office, Emergency Rooms such as those At CapRock Hospital and Emergency have the advantage of having the equipment necessary to perform nearly all testing needed for emergency evaluations.  The emergency room physician may also contact a specialist for more information about specific aspects of your care.  

However, it’s also important to understand that not all evaluations require additional testing or consultation.  Trained and experienced providers can often determine a diagnosis and create a treatment plan without any further testing, which will save you money, time and exposure to blood draws and radiation, etc.  You should not assume that a lack of testing indicates less concern for you or your condition or a limitation on the ability to diagnose your problem.

4. The Doctor Will Recommend a Treatment Plan

After all the necessary information has been collected, the doctor will make their recommendation. This may include simple watchful waiting to see how things progress, or perhaps follow-up with your doctor or a specialist, or maybe even a stay overnight in the hospital.  On occasion, you may require transfer to a facility with special capabilities or specialists unavailable at the ER or hospital where you are being evaluated.  Like all hospitals, CapRock ER sometimes transfers our patients for these reasons, but as a hospital with two ER’s and full inpatient capabilities, we can provide all the care needed for over 90% of the patients who are seen in our ER, even if they need admission.

Rely on CapRock Health for All Emergency Care Needs

At CapRock Health, we are experts in emergency care.  It is our pleasure to provide comprehensive emergency services for anyone in the area, and when necessary, care for them in our very private, personal inpatient unit. We can provide a complete evaluation of any medical emergency and get you started on your way back to health. If you would like to learn more about the care we offer, give us a call today to speak to our team. It would be our honor to take care for the health of your family!