"Why do I have to wait so long?"

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Once you are signed in, your case will be triaged—assigned a spot on the list of patients to be seen based on how critical their conditions are. Be prepared to wait. This is not a sign that your pain is not being taken seriously. It just means that there are others whose conditions need attention more quickly.

When your turn comes, you will be taken to a treatment room. Here, a nurse or other health care professional will take your temperature and blood pressure and ask other basic questions about your condition. He or she will pass this information on to a doctor.

You may need to wait again before you see the physician. Waiting is awful when you are in pain, but remember that it is likely that other patients have arrived (perhaps by ambulance or helicopter) who need care more critically.