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Frequently asked questions about emergency department care

This is a glossary tool of frequently asked questions about emergency departments and being a patient in one.

  • Why are disruptive patients sometimes treated quicker than other patients?

    Intoxicated and restless patients may often cause disruption and unsafe conditions for other patients and those accompanying them. Personnel must be able to guarantee the safety of all patients. It is sometimes necessary to calm down the situation by treating the disruptive patient as quickly as possible, enabling them to move on from the emergency department.

    The emergency department does not condone violence or disruptive behaviour of any kind. Inappropriate behaviour, threats, and violence are absolutely prohibited and may result in criminal penalties. Several emergency departments employ security guards to ensure the safety of both patients and personnel.

  • Why do I have to wait?

    After the assessment of the need for care and its urgency you must wait for a registered nurse or a physician to see you.

    On days with increased congestion, wait times at the emergency department may often be up to several hours. The time you need to wait depends on the level of urgency your illness or injury requires, as well as the number of other patients and the urgency of the treatment of their illnesses or injuries. We hope you can be patient.

    The following factors may also impact wait times:

    Laboratory work is done on most patients, and completion of the tests takes from a half-hour up to two hours. Note that all laboratory results simply cannot be completed in the course of an emergency department visit, and may take several days to be complete. To receive these results, follow the instructions given in the emergency department.

    Imaging studies, such as X-rays, are often necessary. The imaging unit is a separate unit, with its own wait times dictated by the prevailing situation. You may have to queue for an X-ray as well, because the unit usually also treats patients from other wards. Not all emergency medicine providers have a round-the-clock radiologist on call, so it may be you will have to wait for the radiologist’s report to be sent from a different emergency department.

    After the results are complete, the physician will request you to return to the office and plan out continued treatment based on the results and your status.

    It is possible more tests and studies will be needed, increasing the total time you need to spend in the emergency department.

    The emergency department physicians need to treat not only waiting clients, but patients already under observation.

    One critically ill patient may tie up staff members for several hours.

  • Why do I have to tell the nurse why I came if I just want to talk to a doctor?

    The registered nurse in the emergency department will conduct an assessment of the need for and urgency of care in order for you to receive correctly timed treatment at the correct place.

    Keywords: nurse, interview, reason for coming, assessment of the need for care, assessment of the urgency of care, emergency department, health care clinic emergency department, hospital emergency department

  • Why must I wait for test results at the emergency department?

    In the emergency departments, personnel will focus on the patients physically at the premises. There may not be available resources to give guidance over the phone for continued treatment. The test results may also require additional examination or treatment at the hospital, so it is entirely possible you have to return in any case.

    While you are on the premises, your status can be monitored, and, for example, medication administered if necessary.

    Keywords: waiting, test results, observation, emergency department, health care clinic emergency department, hospital emergency department

  • Why hasn’t the doctor seen anyone in a long time?

    Depending on each patient’s illness or injury, the time it takes to examine them is highly individual. Geriatric patients, patients with multiple chronic illnesses, and critically ill patients are only some of the groups who take significant amounts of a physician’s time. Physicians must also log the report of the previous appointment into the patient data system, order tests and studies, and draft new referrals to examination or continued treatment. Sometimes it is necessary to consult another physician as well.

    Often, the same physicians must treat both patients waiting in the hall and patients being monitored in the observation room. These are some reasons why it may seem no new patients are admitted to the reception room for a long time.

    Keywords: reception, queue, wait, treatment, doctor appointment, reception room, emergency department, health care clinic emergency department, hospital emergency department

  • Why does a person who registered later get to see a doctor earlier?

    Emergency department do not treat patients in the order of arrival, but in the order of urgency. The order of urgency varies by the severity of the injury or illness. An assessment of the urgency of a patient’s care is conducted when the patient registers, and it can be amended with changes in the patient’s condition.

    Some of the patients will have had tests made before, and they must be met to hear the results in between new patients being assessed.

    Keywords: prioritization, urgency, queue, injury, illness, assessment, emergency department, reception

  • Why are some of the tests conducted before a meeting with a doctor or a nurse, some only afterwards?

    Some tests may be initiated as early as during the assessment of the need for and urgency of care, or at the registered nurse’s office. This is a way to speed up your emergency room visit and the treatment of your illness or injury. In some cases it may be necessary for additional tests and studies to be conducted even after a physician has seen you.

    Keywords: tests, studies, additional tests, reception, attending the emergency room

  • Why do I have to wait a long time for my call to be answered, or the line is constantly busy?

    Many emergency departments do not have a dedicated telephone service. The personnel present are primarily occupied with treating the patients who are there. If the emergency department is congested, it may be you will have to wait for your call to be answered. Personnel also need to respond to pre-notifications from EMS units and EMS physicians about critically ill patients.

    Check the website of your municipality for contact information for the medical helpline.

    Keywords: telephone, phone, call, emergency department, wait

  • Why am I only being seen by a nurse, not a doctor?

    In the emergency department, a registered nurse will first conduct an assessment of your need for care and its urgency. If you do not require an appointment with a doctor on an emergency basis, you may be directed to an appointment with a nurse.

    Keywords: registered nurse, nurse, registered nurse appointment, nurse appointment, doctor, physician, physician appointment, emergency department, health care clinic emergency department, hospital emergency department

  • Why does it take so long for test results to be complete?

    Some emergency departments employ rapid tests, but they may not always be enough. In those cases, laboratory tests can be administered, and the analysis of the results takes time from a half-hour to two hours depending on the sample.

    X-rays of emergency department patients must often be taken as well. Some of these results can be interpreted by the physician treating the patient, but some require a report from a radiologist. The presence of the radiologist depends on the emergency department. Sometimes it is necessary to request and electronic report from another hospital.

    Keywords: tests, studies, additional tests, reception, attending the emergency room

  • What are the visiting hours of the emergency department?

    There are no set visiting hours in the emergency department. When you want to inquire after a family member or close person who is a patient in the emergency department, contact the registration desk. Personnel will guide you to the location your family member or close person is being treated.

    Keywords: visiting, visiting hours, family, close persons, emergency department

  • When is the emergency department open?

    The emergency departments open to you at all hours depend on your home municipality. You can find more specific information about emergency departments in your area from your municipality’s website.

    Keywords: emergency department, health care clinic emergency department, hospital emergency department, opening hours, official hours, emergency hours

  • Where can I give feedback about my visit to the emergency department?

    Go to your municipality’s website to locate the appropriate channel for feedback about your visit to the emergency department.

    Feedback through social media is always problematic. Due to our obligation to privacy, we can never publicly comment on or address such feedback.

    Keywords: feedback, customer feedback, attending the emergency department, social media, privacy, emergency department

  • What instructions will I be provided with when going home from the emergency department?

    What to do at home, instructions for further treatment, and any follow-up appointments will be discussed with personnel before discharge. You will also be provided with information on who to contact if necessary. Before you leave, let the staff know what certificates and documents you may need, so they can be readied in time.

    Keywords: going home, discharge, continued treatment, follow-up, instructions, emergency department, certificate

  • What happens at the emergency department?

    In the emergency department, an assessment of your need for care and its urgency will first be conducted. In the assessment of the need for care, a health care professional will evaluate if your ailment can benefit from emergency care, whether you should be directed to see a registered nurse or a physician, and how quickly your treatment needs to begin. Thereafter, you will be directed either to a waiting hall or to the observation room. You may meet a second nurse who will conduct a more thorough examination. The need for and urgency of care will be specified. Some tests and examinations may be conducted at this stage already.

    After a registered nurse or a physician has examined you and enumerated the findings, additional studies may be in order. Waiting for the results may take some time in itself. In the course of that wait, your condition will be monitored and medication administered if necessary. A physician will decide on continued treatment depending on the test results and on your status. Either a physician or a nurse will discharge you from the department. You will be issued verbal and/or written instructions on continued care, as well as instructions to treat your ailment at home if necessary.

    Keywords: assessment of the need for care, assessment of the urgency of care, health care professional, registered nurse appointment, physician appointment, examinations, treatment, discharge, continued treatment

  • What does urgent care mean?

    Urgent care means immediate examination and treatment to respond to an acute illness, injury, worsening of a chronic illness, or degradation of function, which cannot be postponed without the risk of further deterioration due to the illness or the injury. Urgent care is available to everyone at all hours.

    For more information about round-the-clock health care services available, see the website of your own municipality.

    Keywords: urgent care, emergency care, acute, first aid, emergency department, hospital emergency department, health care clinic emergency department

  • Is parking paid?

    Emergency departments typically offer only limited parking space. You can find instructions on parking and possible fees on your home municipality’s health care services website.

    Keywords: parking fees, parking, fees, emergency department

  • Is there a direct phone number to the emergency department?

    Not necessarily. Most often you are directed to call the medical helpline.

    Check your local guidelines on your municipality’s website.

    Keywords: emergency department, phone number, telephone number

  • How much does it cost to attend the emergency department?

    The emergency department fee varies by emergency department. The fee is usually higher on weekdays, weekends, and holidays. Do note that the fee may be charged even for a visit to the nurse. A medical certificate written up in the emergency department does not carry a separate fee when it is related to the treatment rendered.

    Keywords: emergency department fee, health care clinic fee, emergency department, registered nurse appointment, nurse appointment, payment cap, specialised health care emergency department, invoice

  • Will children get treatment before adults?

    The order of urgency of patients considers all patients, so patients in need of the most urgent care will come before child patients.

    However, the emergency department tries to treat children as quickly as is possible in the given circumstances.

    Keywords: prioritization, urgency, children, patients, queue, emergency department

  • Can I use my own phone in the emergency department?

    You may use your personal mobile device in the emergency department unless instructed otherwise. Personnel may, if necessary, restrict or prohibit use in a given room or observation ward.

    Keywords: mobile phone, mobile device, restriction, emergency department

  • Does the emergency department offer services in your native language?

    Patients have the legal right to receive service in their native language. The patient’s language, individual needs, and culture will be considered in customer service and in the course of their treatment as far as possible.

    Keywords: emergency department, native language, interpreter, interpretation, telephone interpretation, video interpretation, culture, service, health care clinic emergency department, hospital emergency department

  • Are you allowed to eat and drink whatever you like in the emergency department?

    Before eating, always check with the nurses if it is permitted to eat or drink. Several tests require you to abstain from nutrition, and eating or drinking may cause your treatment to be delayed.

    Keywords: meals, food, drink, tests, patient, nurse, emergency department

  • Can I take photographs in the emergency department?

    Hospital lobbies, waiting rooms, and cafes are public spaces. It is legal to photograph in those spaces. However, consider the position of other people and do not violate their right to privacy. Photographing other patients or publishing their images without their permission is prohibited.

    Various treatment spaces, including, but not limited to reception, procedure, and patient rooms, are not public spaces, and photography in them may be restricted, for example, to protect the privacy of other patients or to ensure patient safety.

    Personnel may not wish to be photographed. Therefore, always as ask beforehand for permission to take a photograph. There may be differences between hospitals, but a patient or a family member does not automatically have the right to photograph the personnel at work.

    Please do not be insulted in the staff do not want to or are unable to act as your co-photographers. They have the right to refuse photography.

    Keywords: photography, photos, video, emergency department, patient, personnel

  • Can a patient be accompanied to observation?

    Close persons and family members have only limited access to a patient in observation due to a lack of space and privacy concerns. It is hoped that each patient be visited by a maximum of one or two visitors at a time.

    Always clear any visit with personnel. The clearance to visit may be impacted by the status and treatment of the patient or others being treated in the same room, as well as the overall situation of the emergency department.

    Keywords: accompanying, family member, close person, privacy, presence, observation, monitoring, emergency department

  • Can I view my patient data?

    The Personal Data Act guarantees your right to view your own personal data. You can check the appropriate way to acquire your own medical records from your municipality’s web site. If not a minor, you can also view this data through the Omakanta portal. You can log in either with your personal banking ID, a mobile certificate, or an electronic ID card. For more information, see the KanTa website.

    Keywords: patient data, medical records, personal data, personal information, personal data act, attending the emergency department, emergency department, kanta, omakanta

  • Can you get medication with you from the emergency department if the pharmacies are not open?

    When the pharmacy nearest to you is not open or your health precludes going to a pharmacy at that moment, the emergency department may be able to provide you with a so-called starter kit of your medication. This way you can get started on the medication and can go to the pharmacy the next day.

    Keywords: pharmacy, medication, emergency department, nearest pharmacy

  • Can I get a transportation certificate for attending an emergency department at any time of the day?

    You need to discuss the mode of travel with personnel. If your illness, injury, or the time of day requires you employ some other form of transportation than public transit, you will be provided with the appropriate certificate. The health care services are permitted to write a SV67 certificate only if the client is unable to use the lowest-cost form of travel due to their health.

    A family member going home from the emergency department cannot be provided with a certificate.

    The links below contain booking information and instructions for Kela-subsidised taxi services in various regions.

    Keywords: transportation certificate, illness, injury, time of the day, certificate, family member, taxi, emergency department

  • Will a patient be served food in the emergency department?

    Typically meals are not served in the emergency department, or they are available only in a limited capacity. No meal is included in the emergency department fee. Depending on the department, a snack may be available. Some emergency departments have snack and drink vending machines. If a patient requires extended bed rest, medical personnel will see they are served snacks.

    Before consuming anything you should ask a nurse if you are permitted to eat or drink.

    Keywords: emergency department, food, drink, meal, snack, snack vending machine, meals

  • Can I register for the queue and leave to deal with other things?

    We recommend you wait for your turn in the emergency department premises. You may leave the emergency department, but you do so entirely at your own risk, cognizant that you may miss your turn. Waiting also constitutes observation of your condition.

    Keywords: waiting, queue number, queue, emergency department, health care clinic emergency department, hospital emergency department

  • Can you make an appointment for a doctor by phone beforehand?

    Usually it is not possible to make an appointment to the emergency department by phone. Check your local guidelines on your municipality’s website.

    Keywords: appointments, doctor, physician, emergency department, emergency appointment, first aid, hospital emergency department, health care clinic emergency department

  • Can you come to the emergency department without a referral?

    You can come to any health care clinic or joint primary emergency department without a referral.

    Keywords: emergency department, referral, hospital emergency department, health care clinic emergency department

  • Can you renew prescriptions at the emergency department?

    No prescription renewals will be written in the emergency department. You should renew your e-prescriptions through your own health care clinic or your occupational health physician, or use the electronic renewal system in kanta.fi.

    Keywords: prescription, emergency department, renewal, health care clinic emergency department, hospital emergency department

  • Can you get a doctor’s note from an emergency department for, for instance, a driver’s license?

    The only medical certificate routinely written in the emergency department is a Medical Certificate A, or a sick leave note, when necessary. The Medical Certificate A is used to verify the patient’s inability to work, usually in short-term illnesses. If your ailment continues, your sick leave should be extended by a doctor in outpatient health care, occupational health care, or your continued treatment provider, such as a specialised health care clinic. The emergency departments will not extend your sick leave over the phone.

    Keywords: doctor’s note, medical certificate, medical certificate A, sick leave note, driver’s license, emergency department, health care clinic emergency department, hospital emergency department, sick leave extension

  • Can I refuse a procedure in the emergency department?

    When a course of treatment is being determined, you, as a patient, have the right to self-determination. This means you may refuse any treatment, or any procedure or other part thereof. If you refuse a treatment or procedure, you must cooperate with the physician to find another medically acceptable solution for treating your illness or injury. Refusing a treatment or a procedure may affect the possibility of your ailment being correctly diagnosed and your illness or injury being appropriately treated.

    The right to self-determination does not imply a right to receive any treatment requested; the choice of treatment rendered is always up to the expertise of the doctor in collaborative agreement with you, the patient.

    Keywords: self-determination, treatment, procedure, treatment procedure, refusal, emergency department

Is there an issue on your mind you can’t find an answer to? Send us new questions through the feedback form.

Updated 1.5.2021