What to Expect During Your Emergency Department Visit

Welcome to the MUSC Emergency Department. Thank you for choosing us for your healthcare needs. We want to share some information with you so you will know what to expect during your stay with us.

When You Arrive

When you arrive, please sign in at the entrance desk. A technician will enter your information into the computer and take your vital signs including heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen level, and temperature.

We want to make sure you know that patients are not always seen in the order that they arrive to our emergency department. Our providers have to give priority to patients who are at higher risk of permanent injury, disability or death.

Initial Screening

As soon as possible, you will see a medical provider for initial screening. This may be a doctor, a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant, and a triage nurse. The provider will ask you questions about your illness or injury, review your medical history, and begin your treatment plan.

The phlebotomist/tech will see you next. This is the care team member who will start your iv, draw blood, collect additional samples.

The triage medical provider will then decide the best location for you to receive additional care. The nurse makes this decision based on your condition as well as on the condition and care of other patients being treated in the emergency department. You may not require placement in a monitored room. This will not affect the quality of the care that you receive.

Additional Care

Once you are placed in the best location for the kind of care you need, you will be evaluated further by additional care team members. Additional testing, treatments, and medications may be ordered.

You probably have questions about how long these additional tests and treatments may be expected to take.

  • Blood work takes about 60 minutes to result once the lab has received your blood that was drawn.
  • X-rays and CT scans may take 1-3 hours to be completed, depending on the number of patients who need these kinds of scans. Remember that people with life-threatening illness and injury may need them before you do.
  • Sometimes it is necessary to consult with a specialty provider who doesn’t normally work in the emergency department. In this case, we have to contact the provider and make arrangements for the consultation. Consultations with other specialty providers vary by the type of provider and how emergent the situation is. This may take just a few minutes but may also take several hours depending on how busy the providers are treating other patients.
  • Medications should be administered in a timely fashion but may have to be prepared in a pharmacy that is not in the emergency department.

Please rest assured that all the care team members in the emergency department are working as quickly and efficiently as possible to care for you and the other patients who need us. We understand that delays and uncertainty are difficult under any circumstances but especially difficult when you are not feeling well or in pain. Your Care Team Members will make every effort to keep you and your family updated on your plan of care. Please do not hesitate to ask for an update at any time. Thank you for partnering with us for your healthcare needs.