What To Expect in the Emergency Room

A medical emergency can happen day or night. When a severe health emergency or injury occurs, every second matters. At Baptist Health System in San Antonio, our commitment to your health is 24/7. Our experienced and dedicated emergency room staff are always ready to provide you with quality and compassionate care when you enter our doors.

Whether it's a broken bone, high fever or a more severe medical emergency like a stroke or heart attack, you can count on us when and where you need it most.

When to Go to the Emergency Room?

So what constitutes a medical emergency? A medical emergency means having a medical condition involving acute symptoms, which may include severe pain or other critical symptoms that pose an immediate risk to a person's life or health over time.

Our hospital triage program aims to allocate emergency medical services and care to people who need them most. Recognizing a medical emergency and getting emergency medical services right away can save lives. Please don’t delay care if you or a loved one have symptoms that are best evaluated in an emergency room, which may include:

  • Broken bones and dislocated joints
  • Chest pains
  • Concussion/fainting
  • Confusion/change in mental state
  • Digestive problems, especially sudden, severe stomach pain coupled with nausea and vomiting
  • Facial lacerations
  • Fever with a rash
  • Head or eye injury
  • Intense back pain with numbness, weakness and fever
  • Muscle strain, inability to walk, fever or an open wound
  • Seizures
  • Serious burns
  • Severe cuts that may require stitches
  • Severe non-COVID-19 cold or flu symptoms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vaginal bleeding with pregnancy

If you or someone you know has signs of a medical emergency, stay calm, go to the nearest hospital or emergency room or call 911. Do not delay care.

Baptist Health System offers shorter waiting times in numerous emergency locations throughout San Antonio. For more urgent needs, we offer Tele-ER to allow you to talk to an emergency room provider from the comfort of your home. To learn more about our Tele-ER service, call 210-297-5033 or visit any Baptist Health System Emergency Room locations to receive medical care.

Visiting the Emergency Room- What to Anticipate

You want to be seen and diagnosed quickly when you have a medical emergency. It helps to know the following information and what to expect in the emergency room:

  1. Arrival — Check in at the registration desk.
    1. Patients are seen based on the severity of their illness or injury, not necessarily in the order of their arrival, even if they arrived at the same time.
    2. We will ask you to provide insurance information.
  2. Evaluation — Medical staff will determine the severity of your illness or injury.
    1. Your pulse, blood pressure and temperature will be taken, and we will get a brief medical history.
    2. If your condition requires you to lie down, you will be escorted to a treatment room. Only two visitors are allowed at a time to protect patient privacy and allow room for staff to work.
    3. If the patient is a child, a parent/guardian should be present.
    4. If a treatment room is unavailable, you will be asked to stay in the waiting room until one can be prepared.
    5. Please do not eat or drink anything as this may interfere with tests the doctor may need to evaluate you.
  3. Examination — When you are brought back to an exam room, you will be placed in a bed.
    1. You may be asked to undress and put on a hospital gown (which ties in the back) so the doctor may examine you.
    2. You may be attached to a monitoring device so our staff can monitor your vital signs. The medical team will visit you while you are being monitored.
  4. Tests — The doctor will order any tests or x-rays he/she feels are necessary.
    1. A staff member will take you to that area if you must leave the ER.
    2. Obtaining the results of the tests may take some time, depending on what tests are being provided.
    3. Once the results from your tests are received, the doctor will explain them to you.
  5. Treatment — Depending on your illness or injury, your treatment may take a few minutes or several hours.
    1. The doctor will decide when you can be discharged from the ER or if you need to be admitted into observation or as an inpatient in the hospital.

      CT w/o TAT (<30 min)
      CT with contrast TAT (<60)
      Xray TAT (<20 min)
      Ultrasound TAT (<60 min)
      MRI TAT (<60 min)

  6. Admitted — If admitted to the hospital, you will be taken to your room as soon as all the arrangements have been made.
    1. You may have to wait in the ER if a room is not immediately available to be admitted to the hospital.
  7. Discharged — If you are discharged, the nurse will provide a copy of your discharge instructions and any prescriptions the doctor may have written for you.
    1. Please keep your discharge instructions because you are responsible for your care after leaving the ER.

Please Ask Questions — Every day, we provide our patients with the care and resources they need to recover fully. Visit us online to learn more about how Baptist Health System makes maintaining your health and wellness easier.

Reminders While You Wait in the Emergency Department

  • We are working as fast as possible — While you are waiting, please know that our emergency staff is working hard to address all patients. Unless your emergency is life-threatening, you may have to wait to be seen by our medical team.
  • Honesty is always the best policy regarding medical care — We ask you many questions to give you the best care possible. The questions may be embarrassing or specific, but it is best to let us know.
  • Please let us know all the medications you are taking and why — Have a list of your medicines in case of an emergency to avoid delays in your care. You should know the exact dosage and any side effects.
  • Sometimes stopping all pain is not an option — Pain is a safety alarm that warns you when something is wrong. Sometimes it is not possible or practical to stop all pain. We will try to keep you comfortable while some conditions and procedures are normally painful.
  • The internet is not always correct — Search engines and social media cannot replace the opinion or diagnosis of our experienced medical staff. Some information online can be misleading or dangerous.

Insurances Accepted and Payment Plan Options

Keeping your health in check is a journey best taken together. When you come to any of our network of hospitals at Baptist Health System, we'll provide you with all the information you need upfront, including financial obligations.

As with any medical procedure, we know that planning is essential. That's why we have made it easier for you to make payment arrangements for your peace of mind. We work with various insurance providers and offer flexible payment plans for most treatments and procedures. Please contact your insurance carrier with specific questions about your covered services and benefits.

Listen to your lingering pain. If you have an upcoming procedure or surgery you've been putting off; please don't delay care. Our dedicated staff is ready to address your questions and help make financial arrangements. Visit our patient financial resources page to learn about our insurance, payment plans, pricing information and estimates or watch this video to learn how we make healthcare more affordable.