At the WBAMC ER we are passionate about delivering high quality medical to care to any patient in need of our assistance, and we will never turn a patient away. Although we strive to care for everyone as quickly as possible, the number of patients we can serve per hour is limited by a finite number of beds and physicians. Therefore, patients are prioritized based on the urgency of their complaint. This is called triage. We use a widely accepted process called the Emergency Severity Index (ESI), which is an algorithm for sorting patients into five severity categories:
- Category 1 is a true emergency and consists of patients who need to have medical attention immediately or risk loss of life or limb.
- Category 2 are those emergency patients who need treatment within 30 minutes or their condition could deteriorate.
- Category 3 patients are stable but need treatment within several hours or their condition could deteriorate.
- Category 4 patients are non-urgent patients who are stable and could be seen by their Primary Care Provider on a "same day" basis. The Emergency Department will see these patients if they have the time and resources.
- Category 5 patients are non-urgent and have minor illnesses or symptoms that may have been present for more than a week, such as rashes or minor aches and pains.
If you are triaged as Category 4 or 5, any time a Category 1, 2 or 3 patient reports to the ER they will be seen before you. Regardless of how one arrives at the ER, whether by ambulance or by walking, all patients are prioritized by severity (triaged). If you walk in the front door with a heart attack or other serious trauma, you will be rushed to a bed; care for patients who have been triaged to lesser categories will be delayed. If you come by ambulance for an ankle sprain at a very busy time, you may go through the triage process and then wait along with other patients of similar severity.
Patients triaged in the ER as category 4 or 5 might be fast-tracked into what we call Quick Care. In this area our nursing staff treats illnesses such as coughs and colds, strains and sprains, back pain, flu-like symptoms, nausea and vomiting, ear aches, mild asthma, skin irritations like a rash, and common infections like strep throat or those of the urinary tract. These types of medical issues are appropriate for the primary care setting, and calling Central Appointments at 742-2273 can help get the care you need while avoiding the longer ER wait for non-emergencies.
Our goal in the Emergency Department is to treat, then release or admit all patients presenting for care. Although some circumstances are beyond our control and create delays that are longer than we would like, you may be assured that when you are seen you will be given our careful attention and the highest quality medical care.