EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT PATIENT GUIDE
We know that coming to an emergency department can be stressful for you or a family member. Our Emergency Department’s (ED) are here for you if you need emergency care. When an illness or injury happens you need to decide how serious it is, and where is the right place to go. It’s not always easy to know if a medical problem needs emergency care. In some situations, emergency medical treatment is a must.
How do you decide?
Understanding how an Emergency Department works may help you decide if you need to go there. When you arrive, you go through a process called triage - a nurse will speak with you and do a quick assessment. The nurse will determine how ill or injured you are and how quickly you should be seen, basically meaning prioritizing patients.
EMERGENT: Examples: Heart attack, major trauma, severe head injury, amputation, severe difficulty breathing (due to an allergic reaction or other cause), unconsciousness, severe bleeding, severe burns.
For Emergent situations, call 911.
URGENT: Examples: Head injury but still awake, deep cut, foreign body in the eyes or ears, high fever/uncontrolled vomiting or diarrhea in an infant or toddler, chest pain (not related to a known heart problem), signs of serious infection.
LESS URGENT: Examples: Minor fracture/sprain, severe back pain, skin/ wound infection, severe headaches (migraines).
NON URGENT: Examples: Colds, minor cuts, bites, sore throat, sinus problems.
If you think it is an emergency or urgent, don’t hesitate seek medical attention.
How long will I wait?
Patients are seen in order of need, not time of arrival. Arriving by ambulance does not always mean you will be seen sooner than other patients. You must also keep in mind there may be other groups of patients that come to this waiting room. Some have already been seen by a doctor in their office and are now being admitted directly. There may be a maternity patient that is in labour who is also being admitted at the patient registration area or a patient who is being brought in before you because the specialist that they have been sent to see has arrived to see them.
Remember services are not offered on a first come first served basis…the most ill or severely injured are seen first regardless of when they show up.
1ST Priority – Seen Immediately Examples: cardiac arrest, unconsciousness, and severe breathing problems
2nd Priority – Seen as soon as possible Examples: severe stomach pain, fractures, head injuries, some breathing problems
Last Priority – Seen when time permits Examples: minor cuts or injuries, colds, sore throats,
Not everyone will necessarily see a physician, depending on their care needs. The nurse who triages you may be able to provide the care you need. The nurse may recommend that you see a physician or nurse practitioner in a clinic the following day. .
At the Emergency Department
What to Bring With You
• Manitoba Health Card
• List of medications
• Please do not leave without being treated. Should you decide to leave please talk to one of our staff members first.
• If you are feeling worse let the nurse know
• Talk to the nurse before going to the washroom in case they need a sample and before you have anything to eat or drink.
Code of Behaviour/Conduct
Patients, staff and visitors all want to be safe in the ED. Prairie Mountain Health has a policy of zero tolerance to violence. This means acts of violence, swearing, threats or verbal abuse will not be tolerated. Anyone who is violent or abusive will be asked to leave.
Before You Leave, the Emergency Department Make Sure You Understand:
√ Your diagnosis
√ Treatment advice
√ New Prescriptions
√ Anything else you might need to do at home
Admission to the Hospital
Depending on your condition and physicians examination you may be admitted to the hospital and further information may be required from you.
Transfer to a Different Hospital
Depending on your treatment needs, you may need to be transferred to another hospital in the region.
OTHER INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS & FAMILIES
If you don’t have family that is able to provide for interpretation, please ask the nurse.
We understand and support your need for family and friends to assist you, but for safety reasons we can only allow one or two visitors with you in the ED treatment area at any time. Occasionally we may need to ask them to leave during your treatment. Visitors must always respect the privacy and care of other patients. Children must be accompanied by a parent or care provider.
Are there other options?
If you are confident that your medical problem does not require urgent or emergent care, there are other options available:
• Heath Links - Info Santé - Toll-free 1-888-315-9257 A 24-hour, 7-days a week telephone information service. Staffed by registered nurses with the knowledge to provide answers over the phone to health care questions and guide you to the care you need. This service is free of charge everywhere in Manitoba.
• Primary Care / Medical Clinic Unless you require emergency care, seeing your family doctor/primary care provider (i.e. Nurse Practitioner) is usually the best option. Your primary care provider knows your health history and can order necessary tests or refer you to the specialists you need. If you do not have a regular primary care provider and would like one, call the Family Doctor Finder at Toll Free at 1-866-690-8260 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. This program can assist you in finding a primary care provider in your area who is accepting new patients.
• Pharmacist Pharmacists have the authority to prescribe and administer certain drugs under limited conditions and they can provide expert advice about your prescriptions and about over-the-counter medications. Your pharmacist can help you understand the medications you take and how they might interact with each other.
What else can I do?
• Before you have a medical problem, know your options/contact information and keep those numbers close by so they are there for you when you need them.
• Ask about your family doctor’s/nurse practitioner’s regular office hours and after hours availability
• Ensure you and your family have enough prescribed medication over holidays and weekends.
• If you have a chronic illness, keep your regular appointments with your doctor/nurse practitioner. Be sure you understand your doctor’s/nurse practitioner’s advice and ask what changes in your condition could require medical attention.
Prairie Mountain Health is always working to improve patient flow throughout our health care system including in our Emergency Departments. Enhancing our delivery of care means our patients are receiving the right care at the right time by the right provider. For a complete list of our programs and services visit our website at: www.prairiemoutainhealth.ca
Sources: Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) WRHA Emergency Department Patient Guide