The emergency room is the American English term for a room, or group of rooms, within a hospital that is designed for the treatment of urgent and medical emergencies.
In the United States an emergency room is often referred to by the acronym ER (there is also a popular TV show with that name). A hospital with an emergency room will have prominent signage stating EMERGENCY (often in white text on a red background) and an arrow to indicate where patients should proceed. Some states like California closely regulate the design and content of such signs, and require wording like "24 Hour Emergency Medical Service" and "Physician On Duty."
In Australia, this section of the hospital is called the casualty ward, casualty department or (slang) casualty.
In the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and New Zealand this is usually called the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department. In the UK it is still frequently referred to by its old name, Casualty.
In Canada, a slang word for emergency room is "emerge".
By definition, an emergency room has an assigned doctor trained in emergency medicine on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
A smaller facility that may provide assistance in medical emergencies is known as a clinic. Larger communities often provide a drop-in clinic where people with medical problems that would not be considered serious enough to warrant an emergency room visit can be seen. These clinics often do not operate on a 24 hour basis, and are sometimes less expensive than going to the ER.
Entering patients are typically triaged by a nurse with training in emergency medicine. Patients are seen in order of medical urgency, not in order of arrival. There is usually one entrance with a lobby and a waiting room for less-urgent patients, and another entrance reserved for ambulances.
The services that are provided in an emergency room can range from simple x-rays and the setting of broken bones to those of a full-scale trauma center. Emergency medical technicians often work as support staff in emergency rooms under the supervision of nurses and doctors.
A patient's chances of survival are greatly improved if emergency care begins within one hour of an accident (such as a car accident) or onset of acute illness (such as a heart attack). This critical time frame is commonly known as the "Golden Hour".
Most emergency rooms in smaller hospitals are located near a helipad which is used to transport a patient to a trauma center. This inter-hospital transfer is often done when a patient requires advanced medical care unavailable at the local facility. In such cases the emergency room can only stabilize the patient for transport.
Emergency rooms around the world are increasingly being used for nonemergent care because of overburdened health care systems. Many people are forced to resort to attending the ER for minor injuries or illnesses if they occur late at night or at times when their doctor is closed. This is especially true for conditions which have severe symptoms, for example a child's ear infection.
See also: General practitioner
Last updated: 10-11-2005 20:24:21
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46