What Does An Emergency Room Nurse Do?

Emergency room nurses monitor the patient’s care from when the patient is admitted to the emergency room to the discharge or transfer of the patient. ER nurses assess the level of care needed and stabilize patients until they are seen by a doctor. Nurses serve as liaisons between the patients, physicians, support staff and ancillary department employees such as radiologist and the lab technicians. ER nurses manage their time between talking with the patients, carrying out doctor’s orders and documenting patient charts.

Admission into the Emergency Room

The ER nurse is responsible for getting detailed information about the patient’s current concern along with their medical history. If emergency room has more patients that can be immediately treated, the nurses determines the severity of the patient’s illness or trauma. If the patient has a life threatening concern, a physician is notified and the patient’s concerns are addressed immediately. If the condition does not demand immediate attention, the nurse should keep the patient comfortable until a doctor is able to meet with and evaluate the patient. Nurses must take the time to accurately document the patient’s chart or electronic medical record (EMR)timely.

Treating the Patient

When the emergency room doctor sees a patient, a set of orders is written. It is the nurse’s responsibility to carry out the orders. Nurses may have to insert intravenous lines, take vital signs, clean and bandage wounds or dispense medications. Some unit assistants will schedule the diagnostic tests, however, ultimately it is the nurse’s responsibility to ensure that each of the doctor’s orders is followed and that all tests are completed. While waiting for test results, the nurse is responsible for monitoring the patient’s condition and notifying the doctor of any changes. When the test results are received, the nurse reviews the results. Doctors are called if there is a need for immediate attention. In addition to serving as a liaison between the doctors, patients and diagnostic departments, nurses often must communicate concerns to family members. Nurses must be careful to abide by all Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.

When the Patient leaves the Emergency Room

After the patient is stabilized the doctor determines if the patient is to be discharged home from the ER, transferred to another location or admitted to the hospital. Nurses complete the patient’s chart, confirm transportation and notify the receiving facility or unit of the patient’s transfer. If the patient is discharged, the nurse reviews the doctor’s discharge orders with the patient and answers any questions that the patient may have.

An emergency room nurse can expect to stay busy throughout their shift. Emergency room nurses care for patients, carryout doctor’s orders and serve as a liaison between the patient, family and medical staff while carefully documenting all concerns and treatments. Additional information about emergency room nursing jobs can be found at the “careers” link on most hospital job boards.