The order in which patients are seen in the Emergency Department is based on the seriousness of their condition, injury or illness.
A person's condition is classified as either: emergent, urgent or non-urgent. This also refers to children, who are prioritized by illness or injury as well.
Emergent Patients include those who have life-threatening conditions or require immediate medical attention. For these patients, a time delay could be life-threatening. Emergent patients are taken immediately to the treatment area and often arrive through the ambulance entrance. For these cases, time is of the essence.
Urgent Patients require medical attention within a period of a few hours before they face further injury or infection if they are not treated. These patients are brought to the treatment area in the order of their arrival, after the resuscitative/emergent patients.
Non-Urgent Patients have relatively mild conditions, or may not require immediate attention. These conditions can include the flu, sore throat, fever and other non-urgent conditions. Many times, patients visit the Emergency Department in the evenings or weekends when their physician's offices are closed. These patients are seen in the order of their arrival after the more emergent and urgent patients and they may encounter longer wait times.
Care Choices are conditions that are clearly not emergencies and can be seen and treated by your primary care physician or at an urgent care center. If this is the case, contact your primary care physician (PCP), who will set up an appointment, refer you to an urgent care clinic or advise you to visit the Emergency Department.