Emergency rooms are designed to see patients with life – threatening problems or with injuries that can’t be managed by family doctors or walk-in clinics.
An Emergency room operates according to a ‘triage system’. That means the sickest people are seen first. Patients with less urgent problems can wait anywhere from two to six or more hours before they are seen by a physician – depending on how busy the ER is.
Family doctor’s offices or clinics can often see people the same day. For many patients it makes sense to call ahead and ask whether your problem can be dealt with at the office or clinic.
Of course if you experience any symptoms that you believe to be an emergency, do not hesitate, call 911 or seek emergency medical care immediately.