Who is Who in the Emergency Room?

When faced with a medical emergency, we tend to rush and scamper around the hospital looking for quick help. Anyone wearing a lab coat or any medical attire will be our last resort in an effort to get much needed medical attention. Understanding the hierarchy in an emergency room will save us a lot. Understanding the treatment process and knowing the right people to approach will help save you time and effort.

The emergency room is a place abuzz with activities. If you ever visit any emergency room during peak hours, you are likely to witness madness. Everyone is busy doing one thing or the other. It almost feels like no one cares about you. It almost feels like your medical condition is inferior to what other people are suffering from. Without the proper knowledge on the protocols of the emergency room, you might end up getting disappointed because either you like it or not, there is an order to be followed when looking to receive treatment in an emergency room. There are nurses, physicians, assistants, lab attendants and many other practitioners. You need to understand the purpose of each and every one of them if you are looking to get quick treatment. To help you understand the protocols of the hospital, here is an explanation of who is who in the emergency room;

Registration Clerks

The first people you are likely to come across are registration clerks at the reception desks. These staff members take your name, date of birth and other personal details, and then they collect your insurance provider information.

Triage nurses

Triage is a system of awarding priorities to the ailing according to the severity of their medical conditions. Triage nurses are meant to help determine the severity of your complaints and set the priorities for go sees the doctor first. If you medical condition is too serious, you will have to see the doctor with immediate effect. If it is not as serious, you will have to wait in line while those with more serious conditions are attended to first.

Primary emergency department nurses

The so called jack of all trades are meant to attend to almost every minor medical condition. These type of registered nurses have a degree in nursing, and the training and experience to manage and assist with a variety of emergency situations, from complaints about broken bones and sprained ankles to cardiac arrest. The can effectively treat wounds, burns and even administer some injections. They are actually the lot that attends to most of the emergency situations in most emergency rooms.


These are the so called Emergency room doctors. These are practitioners who have completed medical school and are qualified medical doctors. They most of the time have no specific area of specialization and will treat or come up with remedies to almost all the reported medical emergencies in the emergency room. At any one point, any good Emergency Room should have at least three physicians to attend to the patients. Flanked by nurses and other assistants, these physicians are able to handle almost all of the reported medical emergencies.

Specialist Physicians

The next line of treatment in the hierarchy are the specialist physicians. They most of the time might not be around the Emergency Room but will be available when called upon. Specialist physicians have more training in special areas. They have more training in areas like orthopaedics, surgery, neurology, cardiology and many other areas. After a physician takes a look at your situation, he/she will consult with a specialist physician to offer more specialized treatment. These are almost the last resort when it comes to seeking treatment in an emergency room.


The other people who are of vital help in the emergency room are the assistants. There are assistants in virtually every section of the emergency room. From physician assistants to laboratory assistants, these are people meant to help the practitioners at hand to offer better service delivery. There are numerous small roles in the emergency rooms like drawing of blood, examining medical records, getting electrocardiograms and many other activities that the physician or nurse can assign to the assistants. They come in handy in the emergency rooms because they are utilities. They most of the time have the training to work in multiple departments and can therefore handle more than one job.

There are other people like forensic nurses or sexual assault nurses who are also important but are not common in most medical emergency rooms. They are assigned to special facilities and are meant to collect and examine specific information in the related fields.

Understanding the roles of these people will help you get quicker and better service. When you are in an emergency, always stay calm and go through the protocols. You will save time and get the best possible treatment.