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Who are these people?
Your Care Team

Starting from when you enter the emergency room doors I will explain common people you will encounter and what their roles are in your care.
Often times the hospital will assign different color scrubs to different roles.  Sometimes they will give name badges of different colors stating their role in large letters.

Emergency medical services (EMS) or paramedic -  If you called 911, the paramedics will come to your door.  They will assess you and work to stabilize you by giving you oxygen or starting an intravenous line (IV) to give you proper medications, if necessary.  If you are having chest pain, they do an EKG (electrocardiogram) and send it immediately to the emergency room they are taking you to alert the team and get advice from the emergency room physician.           If you are not breathing they put a breathing tube down your throat to do the breathing for you.  That is called intubation.

When arriving at the hospital via ambulance, you do not need to go to the admitting desk. You get seen immediately, if necessary,  by the emergency room physician according to your severity of illness.  The paramedics will tell the emergency room charge nurse and physician all of the information they have gained about you thus far.  The write reports on what happened since they responded to your call.

Admitting - You present yourself to the desk did tell the hospital secretary that you are here to be seen and why.  You explain your emergency.  They give you a wrist band, collect your information, have you sign various consent forms and then tell the triage nurse about you.

Triage Nurse- This is a specialized nurse with many years of experience will take you vital signs and go through your problem to know how sick you are and how fast you need to be seen by the doctor.  The more sick you are, the faster you need to be seen.  So sometimes people waiting in the emergency room who do not have true emergencies will be left to be seen last, as they are not in danger of dying in the immediate future.  Triage generally has a scale of 3 categories.  Category 1 is immediate.  Category 2 is urgent.  Category 3 is non Urgent.  If the triage uses color.  The color red means emergency.  The color orange is very urgent.  The color yellow is urgent and the color green is routine.

Emergency room physician - This is a specialized physician trained for many years to deal with true emergency situations.  They have the ability to do procedures to save your life.  If there is time, they will assess you, do a history and physical exam, get blood work and make a diagnosis.  Sometimes you need to be admitted for treatment.  Sometimes you can be discharged home.  The emergency room physician makes this decision.  If you are unable to talk the emergency room physician will know if you need to have assistance breathing with oxygen and how to give that.  Intubation, BiPAP, high-flow or nasal cannula will be explained later.

ER Tech - this is an emergency room technician.  They greet patients and visitors, answer telephones, prepare rooms and transporting specimens.  They can help with registration if necessary.  They help everything run smoothly.

Charge Nurse – The charge nurse is the head nurse in the emergency room who is coordinating all of the nurses.  The charge nurse make sure all patients are taking care of and helps out when necessary.  They also assure that the nurses receive their breaks.  Charge nurse trouble shoots problems and is often the first line of contact from the EMS team for other physicians calling in about patient's they are sending to the emergency room.  This is a very busy nurse.

ER Nurse - This nurse is assigned to taking care of you in particular.  They often start intravenous lines that allow medication to be given into your vein.  They administer all your drugs and monitor your vital signs.  They alert the physician with any changes to your condition.  This is the person you want as your best friend.  Nurses tend to stay in the department that they enjoy the most such as the emergency room or the pediatric unit or the intensive care unit, for example.  They get very good at learning what changes in your condition are important to report to the physician.  Sometimes they have to take on an assignment on another ward, rather than their preferred ward.  They often work 12 hour shifts.

Certified nursing assistant (CNA) –  This person is generally trained how to take care of a person who is acutely or chronically ill.  They can take your vital signs and blood sugar. They help you get cleaned up, get you on the bedpan, change your sheets or even help you eat.  They can help reposition you in bed.  They can help transfer you if you need to go to get some imaging done.  They can assist with rehabilitation.  The CNA can work all through the hospital, not just the emergency department.

Laboratory technician – This person has come to draw you blood and take it to the laboratory.  You may notice they are different color rubber tops to the blood tubes.  Different tests require the blood be drawn in different color of tubes.  They know which to use in her excellent at finding veins.  Laboratory technicians move throughout the entire hospital to draw blood, not only in the emergency department.

Respiratory therapist (RT) – This team helps you breathe easier.  They are trained in giving medications in the nebulizer.  They can give it by a mask so that you can inhale it properly.  They would be the ones helping you if you had a flare of your asthma.  They can also help intubate if necessary.  Remember the intubation (breathing tube) is when you go on a ventilator or the breathing machine because you are unable to breathe on your own.  People often call the ventilator “life support”.  They were all through the hospital and not just in the emergency department.

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