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Emergency Medicine

Emergency Department Visit Frequently Asked Questions

We're here to help in every way possible when it counts the most. Find answers to questions about visiting the emergency department for immediate medical attention.

Who is taking care of me in the Emergency Department (ED)?

A triage nurse quickly screens every patient and directs patients to the appropriate treatment area. Once you are in a treatment area, you will be evaluated by a provider team; during this evaluation, you may be seen by an attending physician, physician assistant (a fully licensed provider), or a nurse practitioner (a fully licensed provider). You will always have an assigned registered nurse (who will work to assist in your treatment and make sure you are comfortable throughout your visit).

While you are in the ED, you may also encounter patient transporters, registrars, case managers, radiology technicians, volunteers, and other healthcare team members, all of whom are working together to provide you with the best care possible.

Why am I being asked the same questions so many times?

To help ensure your safety, multiple members of the team may ask you to confirm your identity and why you are visiting the ED at various points during your stay. You may be evaluated by multiple clinicians including nurses, physician assistants, attending physicians, resident physicians, and consulting specialist physicians and each may ask you to repeat important information relevant to your condition in order to provide you with safe and high-quality care.

It looks like some patients are being seen who came in after I did. Did they forget about me?

Our Emergency Department aims to provide the best and fastest care to every patient who comes through the door. Some patients may have abnormal vital signs or medical conditions that put them at higher risk than others, so sometimes patients will be evaluated “out of order” in order to maximize safety for every patient. This is the triage process, and we continually re-evaluate our patients to help make sure that the sickest people receive prompt care. Please be sure to tell a member of your team if you are feeling worse at any time.

Are there interpreters available? I would feel more comfortable discussing my care in my native language.

Even if you speak English, please tell a member of your healthcare team if you feel more comfortable communicating in your native language, and we will be happy to arrange for interpreter services.

I feel worse. Who should I tell?

If at any point while you are in the ED you feel worse or different than when you came in, tell any staff member and a member of your healthcare team will come to reevaluate you. If you are in pain, let your nurse know.

Can I eat and drink?

It is very important to ask a member of your care team if it is OK to eat or drink. Sometimes you may need to have a test or procedure which means you should not eat or drink. If you are able to drink, we may be able to offer you water, coffee, or tea. If you are able to eat, we may be able to offer you a meal or snack. Please talk to a member of your team if you are hungry or thirsty.

What tests will I undergo?

Your doctor will exam you and order tests as needed.  You may require lab tests (blood draw or urine sample), X-rays or CT scans (pictures of the inside of your body), or other tests. Some patients may not require any tests during their Emergency Department visit. Your healthcare team will explain what tests you will need and can answer any questions you may have.

How long will I be here?

Every patient is different and there is no way to provide exact estimates of how long your treatment will take. Imaging tests (like X-rays and CT scans) can take several hours to be completed and interpreted by radiology doctors. 

You may also need to be evaluated by a consulting specialist doctor from outside the Emergency Department depending on your condition, and this may also take several hours. Remember that there is a healthcare team responsible for your care at all times and if you have questions about the next steps in your care, ask at any time.

Will I need to stay in the hospital?

Sometimes your condition may require additional care in the hospital and you will be admitted or observed in the hospital. At that point, your care may continue with a different healthcare team.

Once the decision has been made, your healthcare team will talk to you about where in the hospital you will go and what to expect. Sometimes there may be a very long wait for a bed to become available. In that case, your care will continue in the Emergency Department until your bed is ready. Depending on why you need to stay and which team will take care of you in the hospital, they may come to meet you while you are still in the Emergency Department and start taking care of you at that time.

Remember that there is always a healthcare team responsible for your care. If you are ever unsure who that is, just ask.

What does it mean to be “observed” in the hospital?

Our ED provider may speak with you about being observed. The goal of observation care is to provide additional treatment and rule out serious illness. This type of care may be provided in either our ED area or upstairs.

What happens when I go home?

Many times, your treatment will be completed in the Emergency Department, and it will be safe for you to go home. You will be given specific follow-up instructions before you leave. You may be prescribed medications to continue taking when you leave the Emergency Department. It is very important that you fill these prescriptions at the pharmacy and take the medicine as instructed.

If you have any questions about what you should do when you go home, ask a member of your healthcare team. Your healthcare team will also talk to you about reasons to return to the Emergency Department.

Where can I get help related to a substance use disorder after I leave the ED?

Ask your provider to provide substance use disorder resources.

I don’t feel safe at home. Who can I tell?

Tell any staff member if you have any concerns about your safety at home or anywhere else. We will assist you with your safety while you are here and prior to leaving the hospital.

How can my family members or support people contact me while I am here?

Your family members and loved ones can call the main phone numbers for the hospitals listed below. Your family members can ask to be transferred to the Emergency Department and be routed to the area in which you are a patient. If your family members come to the Emergency Department, they will be greeted at the main desk and staff will escort them to your location as appropriate.

  • Temple University Hospital - Main Campus: 215-707-2000
  • Temple University Hospital - Jeanes Campus: 215-728-2000
  • Temple Universty Hospital - Episcopal Campus: 215-707-1200
  • Temple Health - Chestnut Hill Hospital: 215-248-8200

At Temple University Hospital campuses, each patient may have only 1 visitor at a time at the discretion of the ED Staff.  Visitors are not allowed in the waiting room, if your family member is directed to the waiting room they can call you to come back as soon as they are placed in a room.

I want to provide feedback about my experience.

We are always trying to improve our care, and we welcome your feedback! Please let a member of your healthcare team know if you have comments or questions about your Emergency Department visit. You may also receive a survey in the mail or via email please fill the survey out and we will receive the feedback.  You can also share your feedback directly by completing our contact form.