Your ER visit
What to expect in the emergency room
When to go to the ER
Knowledge is power, when it comes to deciding when you need to seek emergency medical care. While many people know to call 911 in a life-threatening situation, it can be unclear if symptoms don’t necessarily seem urgent.
Here are some signs that indicate it’s time to go to the emergency room:
- Bone breaks
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Fever in a newborn (less than 3 months old)
- Heavy bleeding
- Issues with pregnancy
- Loss of consciousness
- Serious head injuries
- Sudden worsening of a chronic condition (e.g., asthma or allergies)
If you aren’t sure if the situation is an emergency, call 911 and ask them to send an ambulance.
Arriving at the ER
Once you arrive at the emergency department, you’ll need to check in at the reception desk by providing your name and some basic information, such as your address and phone number. If you or your loved one has a serious or life-threatening injury or illness, you’ll be seen by a doctor right away.
Shortly after you arrive, you’ll be taken to a triage area where one of our registered nurses will ask you some questions. They may also check your vital signs, take your blood pressure, check your temperature and weight and briefly examine you.
From here, you may be asked to head back to the reception area if other patients have filled the exam rooms. Our ER reception areas offer seating, TVs, vending machines and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Heading to an exam room
As soon as one is available, our staff will bring you to an exam room where you’ll be examined and cared for by a team of doctors and nurses who specialize in emergency medicine.
If you need X-rays, blood tests or other lab work, your care team will get you prepared and keep you comfortable while waiting for your results.
Leaving the ER
Your doctor will determine when you’re well enough to go home and what follow-up care you’ll need.
When you’re discharged from the ER, you’ll receive written instructions to follow once you get home. It’s important to follow these to help you heal faster, as well as reduce your chances of having to go back to the hospital. You’ll also receive a summary of your visit upon checkout and be asked to pay any insurance copays.
If you’ve had tests performed during your stay, we’ll automatically send the results to your primary care doctor (your main doctor). You can also view your test/lab results, message your doctors and make any follow-up appointments through the MyGeisinger patient portal.
Using MyGeisinger, our online patient portal, you can:
- Review your medical record
- Get lab results, important health information and alerts
- Pay your bill
- Message your care team with (non-urgent) health questions
- Schedule and cancel appointments
Signing up is easy! Visit MyGeisinger and follow the prompts to sign up. It’s a great time saver and lets you manage your and your family’s health at any time from your phone, tablet or computer.
You can also access MyGeisinger on your smartphone using our MyChart app.
If you’re admitted to the hospital
If your condition is serious enough or you need additional monitoring, your ER doctor will admit you to the hospital.
If you’re admitted to the hospital, your care team will coordinate your move to a hospital room, along with any personal items you brought with you. If you have a special need, such as a vision or hearing impairment or disability, we can provide additional assistance.
We’re here to help.
Who’s who in the emergency room
- Attending physician – A doctor who specializes in emergency medicine and will direct and oversee your medical care while you’re in the emergency department
- Fellow – An emergency medicine doctor who has finished medical school, is undergoing additional training in emergency medicine and is well-trained to serve as your doctor
- Resident – A doctor who has finished medical school, is undergoing additional training and is well-trained to serve as your doctor
- Registered nurse – Works alongside your doctor to assist with your medical care and is specially trained in emergency care
- Child Life Specialist – Certified specialists trained to work with children to help them understand what’s going on, answer questions and make their visit more comfortable. Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre.
- Social worker – Works with you and your family to help address non-clinical needs, such as counseling and connecting you to community resources
- Case manager – Helps you get the right care at the right time, based on your unique needs
- Patient assistant representative – Will help during registration, admission and when you check out
- Avoid drinking anything or having a snack until you are seen by a triage nurse, as this could affect your care and delay treatment.
- Communicate your symptoms as best you can and be honest when answering any questions, to help us better diagnose and treat you.
- Tell your triage nurse about any medications, vitamins, herbal supplements or substances you use.
- Bring a friend or loved one who can help pay attention, provide additional details and reduce your stress.