Doctors treat a patient's hurt wrist in the emergency room

Why the Wait? And Other Common ER Questions

Making the call to go to the emergency room is typically accompanied by feelings of stress and anxiety. You or someone you care about needs immediate medical attention, and you usually don’t have spare time to make fully informed decisions. We’re sharing answers to three of the most common questions regarding the ER to put your mind at ease.

Is the ER the right place for me?

Life-threatening conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, and major trauma, require immediate medical care. In these situations, the ER can provide the quickest and most comprehensive medical solutions. Urgent care facilities and primary care physicians can typically provide faster and more affordable treatments for less critical issues like sinus infections, minor cuts, and sprains. Use our helpful infographic to determine where you should go based on your symptoms.

How long will I have to wait?  

Your wait time in the emergency room depends on the severity of your condition. When you check in, a triage nurse performs a physical exam and checks your vital signs to determine how immediately you require medical attention. If your condition is less severe than others’, you’ll have to wait until a doctor is available. However, if someone new enters the emergency room with a high-level emergency, they will jump to the top of the list. Consider locating your nearest hospital-based freestanding emergency center as these facilities typically offer shorter wait times compared to a hospital emergency department.

What should I bring with me?

If possible, bring any medical records and medications you have on hand. Sharing these items with the care providers in the emergency room will save time and can prevent harmful medication interactions. You can also call your primary care physician and ask them to share your existing medical conditions and medications with the emergency room staff to better coordinate your care. Finally, if your injury is of lower severity and you think you might have a long wait ahead of you, bring something to distract you, such as a book. Check out our ER Visit Prep Guide so you can be ready to go.

When a life-threatening medical event occurs, call 911 and visit your preferred ER. In the event of an emergency, one question you shouldn’t worry about is where to go. Find some peace of mind and locate a St. Luke’s Health emergency department near you.



U.S. News & World Report | Enduring Really Long Waits at the Emergency Room
Emergency Care For You | Checking into the ER


Recent Updates

Recipe: Power-Packed Protein Balls

JUN 14, 2021

Looking for a recipe that takes minutes to make and is full of feel-good ingredients? Look no further; we’ve got you covered!

Read More Additional information about Recipe: Power-Packed Protein Balls | St. Luke's Health

Ease Back Into Exercise: 4 Essential Tips From Doctors

JUN 08, 2021

Thinking of exercising again? Here's what doctors are saying on how to ease back into your workout routines safely.

Read More Additional information about Ease Back Into Exercise: 4 Essential Tips From Doctors

Get Started With Deep Breathing To Reduce Anxiety

MAY 17, 2021

Set aside time to get comfortable and practice breathing in and out. Learn more about deep diaphragmatic breathing with a free guide.

Read More Additional information about Get Started With Deep Breathing To Reduce Anxiety

Find a Doctor

Looking for a doctor? Perform a quick search by name or browse by specialty.