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Scott Beck
/ Categories: Emergency Care

What to Expect in an Emergency Room Visit

Joe Kohout, MD

What kind of cases are seen in the ER?
Emergency room staff see just about everything in the way of medical emergencies. It’s sometimes referred to as the “front door to the hospital,” as it’s where many people come before being admitted to the hospital. The ER treats anything from strokes, chest pain and heart attacks to broken bones and sprains.

Why are other patients treated before me?
Emergency rooms prioritize patients based on a triage system, bringing the more severe, possibly life-threatening cases to the front of the line. There are some hospitals — like Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital — that offer a quicker flow system, bringing patients with less severe symptoms to a separate part of the ER to see a specific provider. This can make your trip to the ER much quicker.

What tests can be done in the ER?
A significant amount of lab work can be done in the ER, such as blood and urine tests to look for any signs of infection. When conducting blood tests, staff also look for signs of severe blood loss or organ damage. X-rays are conducted in the ER to check for any broken bones as well as CAT scans to take a deeper look in the body.

How do I know if I should go to the ER?
​If you are truly worried about a medical issue, it’s best to head to the ER sooner than later. When people call the ER, we often err on the side of caution and have them come in. It’s typically not a good idea to wait at home when a possible emergent situation could arise. Also, don’t forget to utilize EMS if needed — these trained medical professionals can start your workup and treatment in the ambulance right away.

Dr. Joe Kohout is the medical director of the emergency department at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital. 

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