Should you go to the emergency department?
Emergency departments treat patients with sudden illnesses or injuries whose treatment cannot be postponed until the next working day without the patient’s illness or injury getting worse.
Where should I call and why?
Before you leave to go to the emergency department find out what is the best place to treat your symptoms or injuries. Contact your local medical helpline for advice and assessment of your need for care before you leave to go to the emergency department.
In some regions, patients are advised always to call the medical helpline before seeking emergency care. These instructions should be complied with to ensure smooth service at the emergency department. Use the Emergencyhub.fi assessment for need of care online tool to decide whether or not you should seek emergency care.
In addition to 24/7 emergency departments, emergency care is also available at the walk-in and urgent care clinics at health centres.
In case of emergency call 112
In case of a real emergency, be quick to call the emergency medical services for help. When calling the emergency number 112, the trained operator at the Emergency Response Centre assesses your need for care and dispatches an ambulance or other assistance to the scene. Paramedics are trained to start treatment immediately on arrival and, if necessary, transport the patient to the appropriate unit to receive further treatment.
Emergencies when you should immediately call 112 include
- severe chest pain
- severe breathing problems or difficulties
- sudden symptoms suggesting stroke symptoms: A droop or uneven smile, Numbness or weakness of the arm or leg, slurred speech or difficulty finding words)
- sudden severe headache
- heavy bleeding
- major injuries
- unresponsiveness or unconsciousness
Which emergency department should I go to?
As emergency care is provided at hospital emergency departments and walk-in and urgent care centres at heath centres, it is important to know which is the right place for you to seek treatment.
The correct place for treatment also depends on the time of the day. To ensure sufficient resourcing and access to health services and patient safety, it is important that patients are treated in the right place at the right time. If you are not sure where the emergency health services are provided in your area, call your local
If you are travelling outside your home municipality, you will be treated at the nearest emergency department if you need urgent care. Following the initial treatment, you may be referred for further treatment or examinations at the hospital in your own area.
Assessing the need and urgency for care
Patients are pre-assessed by a nurse on arrival at the emergency department to determine their need and the urgency for care. This assessment allows the triage nurse to allocate the right resources based on the urgency and type of treatment needed.
The triage nurses use various standards, measurements and scales and codes made up of letters or numbers to indicate the urgency of treatment. Each patient arriving at the emergency department undergoes a similar assessment, which is always made on purely medical grounds.
An initial assessment made on the phone, or the customer’s own assessment is adjusted on arrival as necessary. It is important to take note whether the patient’s situation has changed while they have been seeking emergency care. In some cases, the emergency department staff may decide that there is no need for emergency care and the patient can be discharged with the advice to contact their local health centre.
At the nurse’s appointment, a nurse treats minor illnesses and injuries that require urgent care either independently or together with a doctor. Depending on your condition and the emergency department, you may receive all the treatment you need at a nurse’s appointment. If the nurse finds it necessary, you may be referred to a physician for further examination.
You may have to wait for your treatment
Even a fairly straightforward case at the emergency department may involve several stages and input of different professionals. Examining and treating a patient sometimes requires tests and the results sometimes take time. In some cases, monitoring the patient’s condition and symptoms is part of the treatment and sometimes significant changes in the patient’s condition may take place while the patient is waiting. All patients with sudden illnesses and injuries are treated in the order of urgency. Emergencies and accidents cannot be predicted and, for example, an incident in the area may make the emergency department very busy. The staff is committed to providing the best possible service to all patients without unreasonable delays. The emergency department staff is there for the patient.
Eating and other activities at the emergency department
Emergency departments often have vending machines or a café, where customers can purchase snacks and drinks. In some cases, the patient needs examinations and tests that prevent the patient from eating.
Ask the staff if you are unsure whether you are allowed to eat and drink normally. You take your daily medication normally.
You can use your mobile phone at the emergency department to communicate with your friends and family and to pass your time while you wait. In areas where instruments sensitive to interference are used, the use of mobile phones is forbidden. For any restrictions on the use of mobile phones, please ask the staff. Remember to bring your own phone charger with you.
Taking photographs is allowed in public places but note that publishing pictures of others on social media is forbidden without their consent.
You may bring a next of kin, family member or a friend or personal assistant to accompany you to the emergency department. Especially elderly patients and disabled patients may need assistance during the examination and treatment.
If the emergency department is very busy, the number of accompanying persons may be limited. There are areas in the emergency department where accompanying persons are not allowed, and they can wait in the waiting room or come back to meet the patient later.
Family members may call and inquire about a patient’s health. There are no set visiting hours at the emergency department. However, only close family members should visit the patient at the emergency department. Remember that patient information can be disclosed to family members only with the patient’s consent. All medical professionals are bound by patient confidentiality at all times.
Zero tolerance of disorderly or abusive behaviour
Emergency departments are staffed by security guards to ensure the safety of patients and staff. Patients and accompanying persons are expected to conduct themselves appropriately and peacefully. Security guards will intervene with all disorderly and abusive behaviour as required.
What should I take with me to the emergency department?
To speed up service at the emergency department, bring your KELA card with you.
An updated list of your current medication is also essential to ensure successful treatment. If you have not listed your medication, bring all your valid prescriptions with you. Nowadays, when e-prescriptions are becoming more common, paper prescriptions are not necessarily available, which is why it is a good idea to keep an updated list of the medications you take. If you are on anticoagulant medication, bring your dosage instructions with you. If you are allergic to any drugs, also keep a list of your allergies. Include your drug allergies in the list of your medications.
Sometimes data systems are not compatible, and the emergency department staff may not have access to your medical records.
Bring your specialised medications and
personal medicines, such as insulin, eye-drops and asthma medications with you to the emergency department. Emergency departments stock only a limited amount of drugs and the medications you need may not be available.
contact details of a person you want us to contact if necessary, and make sure with the staff that your information in the patient information system is updated. You can bring your own mobile phone and charger to the emergency department.
If you have used health-care services recently because of an acute issue and you have the results or x-rays from recent examinations, do bring these with you to the emergency department. Home care patients are advised to bring their home care file with them, if they have one.
personal effects and aids such as glasses, hearing aids, dentures, walking frames or wheelchairs with you, if you can. Please be aware that sometimes you cannot bring mobility aids with you in an ambulance for safety reasons and they must be left at home.
Patients using oxygen concentrators and other breathing aids at home should bring them with them to the emergency department if it is to be expected that they will be needed during the visit.
Remember to take your
house keys and a small amount of cash to pay for a taxi or public transport to go home after discharge.
It may also be a good idea to bring a change of clothes and toiletries if it is likely that you will be referred directly for further treatment.
Don’t bring any valuables (jewellery, watches), credit cards or large amounts of cash to the emergency department. As a rule, patients are themselves responsible for their belongings.