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Triage refers to the assessment of a patient's condition to determine when and how that patient receives treatment in the emergency department.
The triage nurse is the first person patients see in the emergency department. The nurse will ask about your symptoms; take blood pressure, temperature and pulse; and record a short medical history of the illness or injury.
Triage classifies patients according to need, as follows:
- Emergency – those who have a life-threatening illness or injury
- Urgent – those who are in stable condition, but need help as soon as possible
- Non-urgent – those who have minor problems or chronic but manageable conditions
A patient whose condition is non-urgent may have to wait to be seen for one or more of the following reasons:
- Other patients require immediate treatment
- Beds or treatment rooms need to be prepared
- Ambulances bring in more critical patients
The triage nurse and/or volunteer staff are there to assist and to answer questions or concerns. Please let them know of new or worsening symptoms while you are in the emergency department.
After triage, the patient is seen by an emergency medicine doctor unless the patient's doctor has arranged to be at the emergency department. Family and friends who bring a patient to the emergency department may get separated if the patient needs treatment or lab tests or if other patients who are seriously ill arrive and visitors are asked to return to the waiting area.
In emergency care, treatment and test results take time. After treatment, a patient may need to get additional tests and then return for further treatment, be admitted to the hospital or be discharged. We will provide written instructions for post-emergency care with a primary care practitioner or specialist.
What to Bring
An Access Representative will request billing information such as the patient’s address, phone number and type of health insurance. If possible, have ID and insurance cards available.
Patients receiving care in the emergency department receive at least two bills, depending on their health insurance and the number of different services provided. The emergency department bill is separate from the doctor's bill and the radiology bill (if imaging is involved).
No one is turned away from the emergency department due to inability to pay for care.