The emergency room is always a stressful place. And you know that patient care is essential, but it’s even more critical in emergencies. There are a lot of reasons to make the patient experience a top priority in the ER. Managing patient expectations and your own, will be a big part of making the experience more comfortable. Here are some things to consider when you’re focusing on patient care in your emergency room.


Unless the patient is critical, the first impression most patients get from an emergency room is in triage. Triage is the step to determine the severity of the situation. Through the triage process, the order of care is determined, but that can be frustrating to people who have been waiting to be seen for their emergency. This part of the process must be handled with empathy, and patients made to feel as comfortable as possible.


Once a patient is assessed in triage, they need to be registered. This can feel overwhelming to someone experiencing distress, but it’s critical for the next steps. The emergency department has to get the patient’s record and receive consent for treatment. In some cases, when a patient is immediately transferred to treatment, someone will handle this process at the bedside.


Treatment is always handled by a medical team, including doctors and nurses. Nurses may put in an IV line if necessary. They may also take urine or blood samples to help the diagnosis and treatment process. In this stage, a patient may communicate with multiple people, which can feel overwhelming if they feel they have explained themselves multiple times to multiple people. Providing consistent care will go a long way to increasing the patient comfort level.


Once the initial treatment is administered, and tests are run, the doctor will have additional insight into the patient’s condition or injury. At this stage, they need to perform a reevaluation. Between each step, the patient needs constant communication, or they may feel forgotten. Even if you know they’re waiting on important tests, they may become frustrated by the length of the wait. Patient care helps to manage expectations.


Patient care doesn’t end when a patient leaves the hospital. The ER staff should provide instructions for follow-up and written information for continued care at home. Before discharging the patient, these instructions should be gone over to ensure the patient or their family understand the next steps.

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