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What to Expect When Visiting the Emergency Departm Healthy People, Healthy Communities
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What to Expect When Visiting the Emergency Department

Before You Go

Before you go to the emergency department, you should make sure you have the following things with you to ensure your visit will go smoothly:
  • Your Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Care Plan (MCP) card.
  • Your hospital card – this is a coloured card you may have from previous visits. If you do not have this card you can get it when you visit.
  • An up-to-date list of the medications that you take or the bottles containing your medications (medications prescribed by your doctor or other medications such as vitamins that you take regularly).
  • Any records that you may have concerning your health.
  • Personal medical equipment that you may need while you are in the emergency department.
We encourage you to bring one family member who can provide you with support and assist you if necessary. Family members may be asked to wait in the waiting room for short periods.
Once You Arrive
When you arrive at the emergency department, you will be registered and seen by a registered nurse who is skilled in triage. Eastern Health uses the Canadian Emergency Department Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) as a triage system to prioritize patient care by the severity of their condition or illness. The CTAS system ensures that the sickest patients are taken care of first. There are five CTAS levels patients can be assigned, Level I being the highest acuity and Level 5 being the least.

The nurse will assess your condition by asking about the reason you came to the emergency department, your allergies, past and present medical conditions and the medications you currently are taking. The nurse will check your temperature, pulse and blood pressure and provide immediate care when necessary.

Based on the triage nurse’s assessment of your condition, you will be assigned a triage code that helps the doctors and nurses determine when you will be moved to a treatment room in the emergency department and when you will be seen by a doctor or nurse practitioner. 

After you have seen the triage nurse, depending upon your triage code and what else is happening in the emergency department, you may be taken immediately to a treatment room or asked to wait in the waiting room. 
Waiting for Treatment

Sometimes, patients have to wait to be seen when they visit the emergency department. Sicker patients already in the emergency department or sicker patients that arrive while you are waiting must receive care first. The length of time you wait is also affected by the number of patients who are in the emergency department.
While waiting, if you have questions or you feel your condition has become worse, please let the triage nurse or a registered nurse know right away. 
If you decide that the wait is too long and are planning to leave, please let the nurse know. 

Being Treated in the Emergency Department
When you are brought into a treatment area in the emergency department, you will receive a more thorough assessment of your condition. The physician or nurse practitioner will discuss your treatment options and make any follow-up arrangements and referrals as necessary. You may also be referred to a specialist who will decide if you need to be admitted to the hospital.

Leaving the emergency department before being seen

If you leave one of the 12 adult emergency departments within Eastern Health without being seen by a physician or nurse practitioner you may receive a follow-up call.

Eastern Health is partnering with the Newfoundland and Labrador Healthline to follow up with patients who leave an emergency department without being seen by a nurse practitioner or physician. If there are particular concerns about a patient’s condition, a follow-up call will be made to them within 24 hours of their visit to determine whether they have received any further assessment or treatment. If the individual cannot be contacted, the identified family contact will be called. 


Updated Jul 31, 2013