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What to Expect in the ER

With Emergency Rooms located throughout the greater Houston area, the award-winning Memorial Hermann Life Flight air ambulance program and the services of Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, a Level I Trauma center, Memorial Hermann offers the most comprehensive network of emergency services available in southeast Texas. Each year, some 400,000 people seek treatment in a Memorial Hermann ER.

How does the ER staff determine when I will be seen by a doctor?

All of our ERs follow a triage system. The first professional caregiver you will likely meet is a triage nurse. This individual is usually one of the more experienced ER nurses, whose primary role is to obtain a brief focused history and to perform a rapid physical assessment in order to determine the severity of illness.

Why is triage necessary?

Triaging (a process that helps us rapidly and safely determine which patients need to be seen as a priority and which can safely wait to be seen) is essential because of the nature of emergency rooms.

Several patients may arrive at the same time with varying severity of physical concerns. As you would expect, patients whose conditions are considered the most serious will be seen first. If your condition is not critical, you may be sent to the admitting area to complete the registration process.

What if my condition changes while I am waiting?

Tell the triage nurse if symptoms worsen or if new symptoms develop. The nurse will reassess you and document the new information on your chart.

If my condition is not considered critical, then how long might I wait to be seen?

Your wait will depend on how busy the ER is and the nature of your condition. In general, evenings, weekends and holidays are busiest. During peak periods, wait times may be as long as several hours.

What should I bring to the emergency room?

Although trips to the Emergency Room can be unexpected, it’s important to try to be prepared in case of an emergency. Here are a few important items to have on hand for your visit:

  • Name and phone number of the patient’s primary care physician
  • Identification and insurance card
  • List of all medications, including doses and how often they’re taken (Note: If a list of medications is not available or known, bring a bag containing the patient’s medications)
  • List of any over-the-counter medications and supplements being taken, such as pain relievers, vitamins and herbal products
  • Next few doses of the patient’s medications
  • List of all known allergies and any chronic medical conditions
  • Any special medical equipment needed
  • Pharmacy name and location
  • If necessary, a friend or family member that can help interpret or provide additional information about the patient’s history or illness
  • Please avoid bringing valuables to the ER