Assessing the need and urgency for care

Patients are always assessed on arrival at the emergency department to determine their need and the urgency for care.

The purpose of the assessment is to determine the need for care and how urgently treatment should be started. At this point the assessment is general, and no special instruments are used.

The nurse who interviews the patient takes note of breathing and circulation by looking at and touching the patient. If necessary, the nurse measures the patient’s temperature or blood oxygen.

This assessment is repeated at the emergency department even if the patient has called the Medical Helpline before arrival. This is done because it is important to be aware of any changes in the patient’s condition. There are also many symptoms that cannot be assessed reliably over the phone without seeing the patient, such as cuts or skin symptoms. After the initial assessment, the patient is registered into the emergency department system, unless it is decided that the patient needs no further treatment and is discharged. The patient may also be referred for treatment elsewhere more suitable to treat their condition.

In addition to the need for care, the urgency of care is also classified. The classification is a way of ensuring that everyone receives treatment as soon as it is necessary considering their symptoms. There are various codes in use, consisting of numbers and letters to describe the level of urgency. These codes are needed to ensure patient safety. It is never possible to treat all patients in the emergency department at the same time.

Follow Mikko at the emergency department

It’s Mikko’s turn and the nurse is ready to see him to assess his need for care. Mikko says he had called the Medical Helpline, when the nurse instructed him to come to the emergency department.

The nurse explains to Mikko that based on his symptoms, urgent examination and care are necessary in Mikko’s case. The nurse also asks further questions about Mikko’s symptoms and general health and explains she is assessing the Mikko’s need for care and urgency of his situation so that he is treated by the right people at the emergency department.

The nurse checks Mikko’s personal details and attaches a wristband on his wrist with Mikko’s name and personal ID code on it. The nurse explains the urgency categories used in the hospital. Based on his symptoms and the general state of health, Mikko is in category D. The nurse makes sure Mikko is indeed able to wait for his turn sitting in the waiting room, and Mikko assures her that he is.

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Updated  1.5.2021