Upon entering the Emergency Department (ER) waiting area, patients are greeted and informed of the registration process. ER staff record your information at their desk/window. Signatures authorizing treatment, payment and financial responsibility will be obtained by this staff. In cases where patients arrive by ambulance, staff will come to the bedside. Registration is an important step that helps ensure the process runs smoothly.
After the registration process is finished, the first person you see will be the triage nurse, who will evaluate your condition according to the urgency of the illness or injury. This person assesses the condition assists until the physician or physician’s assistant is available.
The most seriously injured or ill is treated first. This may be the reason that you see others taken into the ER before you are. Patients who may appear to have less serious illnesses or injuries may be taken into the ER before you are, based on their level of triage.
Levels of Triage
Triage is the term used to describe how patients are placed into a particular group or level according to the urgency of their illness or injury.
- Level 1: Patients who need immediate treatment. These patients have extremely serious injuries or illnesses and might die if they are not treated right away. Some examples include cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, nonresponse to stimulation, trauma or multiple injuries.
- Level 2: Patients who need very urgent treatment. These patients have severe injuries or illnesses or might become worse or suffer long–term problems if they do not receive very quick treatment—for example, heart attacks, strokes, severe bleeding, severe fractures, decreased level of consciousness, chemical splash to the eyes, toxic ingestion, severe pain, severe breathing issues or psychiatric emergencies.
- Level 3: Patients who need urgent treatment. These patients have a serious medical condition, but not an immediately life–threatening injury or illness. Example are thigh or leg fractures, moderate asthma, uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea, or high fevers that do not respond to Tylenol or Motrin.
- Level 4: Patients who do not need urgent treatment. These patients will not get worse if they have to wait for treatment—for example, sprains and strains, simple cuts, and most ankle or arm fractures.
- Level 5: Patients who need the skills of our staff but do not need urgent treatment. These are patients with long–term problems including second opinions, coughs, and colds.
Location of Emergency Department Services
Helena, MT 59601