When to Go to the Emergency Department and What to Expect
- Wheezing, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Fainting or dizziness
- Sudden numbness or weakness
- Bleeding that can’t be stopped
- Abdominal pain- especially intense localized (in one spot)
- Fever with convulsions or any fever in children under 3 months
- Confusion or changes in mental status
- Coughing or vomiting blood
- Severe headache or head injury, especially on aspirin or blood thinners
- Blood in the urine, or bloody diarrhea
- Sudden inability to speak, see, walk, or move
- You will be asked if you have a fever, cough, or had contact with COVID-19
- You will have your temperature checked
- A facemask will be provided if you don’t have one
- You may be asked to go back to your private vehicle or waiting room until a bed is ready
Triage: A nurse will evaluate the seriousness of your illness or injury
- They will check your temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and ask questions.
- You may be sent back to your private vehicle or to the waiting room until a bed is ready.
- Tell a nurse if you have difficulty with overstimulating environments or long waits.
- Ask if they have a quieter area for minor illnesses/injuries to help you to be seen ASAP.
- Inform the nurse of any special communication needs.
Registration: How a medical record is made of your visit.
- Have a photo identification card and your medical insurance card with you.
- You will be asked to sign a consent form for treatment and payment responsibility.
Examination: Staff will prepare you to be seen by the doctor.
- Blood tests, x-rays, or other tests may be taken at this time.
- The nurse and doctor will do the best they can to relieve your pain as soon as possible.
- Sometimes medication can only be given after tests or x-rays have been completed.
- X-rays are looked at first by an emergency doctor and also read by a radiologist.
Long Wait Times: There are many reasons I may have to wait.
- Critically ill or injured patients need immediate treatment, even if they arrived after you.
- Lab and/or x-ray has been called to perform a procedure to help evaluate your condition. Lab tests are highly complicated and take time to complete.
- A specialty room is needed for your treatment.
Family and Caregivers: What if I need help?
- If you need your family or caregiver to help you communicate, you tell the nurse during triage and registration.
Discharge: When care is complete
- Staff will provide you with written and verbal instructions.
- If it’s necessary for you to be admitted to the hospital, your ED physician will coordinate with your doctor or one of the hospital’s in-house doctors.
Billing: You may need to pay your co-pay before you leave
- You should have money or a debit or credit card with you to make this payment.
This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.