Emergency care takes time … for many reasons

Nurses Arlinda Carey and Melanie Charleston prep an incubator in the back of an ambulance at Upstate University Hospital’s downtown emergency department.  They are members of Upstate’s pediatric critical care transport team who offer intensive care to critically ill children at other hospitals from the Canadian to the Pennsylvania borders. They are pictured with emergency medical technician Marc Battaglia, right. (PHOTO BY JOHN BERRY)

Nurses Arlinda Carey and Melanie Charleston prep an incubator in the back of an ambulance at Upstate University Hospital’s downtown emergency department.  They are members of Upstate’s pediatric critical care transport team who offer intensive care to critically ill children at other hospitals from the Canadian to the Pennsylvania borders. They are pictured with emergency medical technician Marc Battaglia, right. (PHOTO BY JOHN BERRY)

Doctors, nurses and technicians working in Upstate University Hospital’s emergency department strive to provide care quickly, but many aspects of good care take time.

The typical emergency visit in the United States averages four hours, and it varies based on whether you ultimately are admitted to the hospital. Your experience may vary depending on what your problem is and depending on how many other people are seeking care at the same time.

Patients are not seen on a first-come, first-served basis in emergency departments. Staff “triage” people as they arrive, putting the most seriously injured or ill at the front of the line.

Diagnosing what’s wrong with someone is a thorough process that may take a while.

For instance, X-ray results or the results of blood or urine analysis may not be ready for 90 minutes. Ultrasound or computerized tomography scans may not be complete for two to three hours. And if a patient requires a specialist, summoning an orthopedic surgeon, an eye doctor or cardiologist could take a few hours — again, depending on how many other people concurrently need the care of that specialist.

Often in the emergency department, patience is a requirement.

Upstate Health magazine spring 2018 cover

This article appears in the spring 2018 issue of Upstate Health magazine. 

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