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Emergency room

The emergency room is a room, or group of rooms, within a hospital that is designed for the treatment of urgent and medical emergency situations.


In the United States an emergency room is often referred to by the acronym ER. A hospital with an emergency room will have prominent signage stating EMERGENCY and an arrow to indicate where patients should proceed.

In Great Britain and Australia, this section of the hospital is called the casualty ward, casualty department or (slang) casualty.

In New Zealand this is usually called the Accident and Emergency (A&E) ward.


By definition, an emergency room has an assigned doctor trained in emergency medicine on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

A smaller facility that may provide assistance in medical emergencies is known as a clinic.

Entering patients are typically triaged by a nurse with training in emergency medicine. Patients are seen in order of medical urgency, not in order of arrival.

The services that are provided in an emergency room can range from simple x-rays and the setting of broken bones to those of a full-scale trauma center. Emergency medical technicians often work as support staff in emergency rooms under the supervision of nurses and doctors.

A patient's chances of survival are greatly improved if emergency care begins within one hour of an accident (such as a car accident) or onset of acute illness (such as a heart attack). This critical time frame is commonly known as the "Golden Hour".

Most emergency rooms in smaller hospitals are located near a helipad which is used to transport a patient to a trauma center. This inter-hospital transfer is often done when a patient requires advanced medical care unavailable at the local facility. In such cases the emergency room can only stabilize the patient for transport.

Emergency rooms around the world are increasingly being used for nonemergent care because of overburdened health care systems. Many people are forced to resort to attending the ER for minor injuries or illnesses if they occur late at night or at times when their doctor is closed.

See also GP