The Emergency Department provides care for any patients with serious illness, injury or those requiring urgent care.
The Emergency Department at Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary is open 24 hours and 365 days a year. There is a smaller Emergency Department at the Galloway Community Hospital in Stranraer.
The role of the Emergency Department is to assess and treat patients who have suffered a serious injury or accident, or those who have developed a sudden serious illness or medical condition. An emergency is when your health condition is serious and requires urgent attention.
You should only attend the Emergency Department if you believe that your problem cannot wait for a Doctor to arrive or you have suffered an acute injury.
Generally, you should treat the situation as an emergency if it involves -a serious head injury with heavy bleeding; loss of consciousness; a suspected broken bone or dislocation; severe chest pain or breathlessness; severe stomach pain that cannot be treated by over-the-counter remedies; severe bleeding from any part of the body.
Small cuts, bruises and sprains are not normally considered to be emergencies. They can usually be treated at home, by your GP or in a Minor Injuries Unit.
Minor Injury Units are located at community hospitals in Newton Stewart, Kirkcudbright, Castle Douglas and Moffat.
If you are not sure if it is an emergency, you can call NHS24 on 111 for advice on what to do. Alternatively, go to the NHS24 website.
All Emergency Departments operate a system where the most serious injured or ill are seen first, some of whom may have life threatening conditions. This means that patients with less serious problems will require to be patient and wait.
Staff will do their best to estimate how long you require to wait but, the workload is very unpredictable and waiting times will change if seriously ill patients are brought in by ambulance.
Staff will work hard to get you seen as quickly as possible. If your condition worsens whilst you are waiting please let a member of reception, nursing or portering staff know in order you can be reassessed.
Your Child and the Emergency Department
There is a separate treatment area for children. We recommend that only parents accompany the child.
Whenever possible please try to avoid bringing young children with you if they do not require treatment.
Parents will be encouraged to stay with the child during assessments and treatments in the Emergency Department.
It is our belief that every individual should be treated with the utmost respect, be listened to carefully and given the opportunity to participate in making an informed decision regarding their care and treatment. We aim to provide skilled assessment, treatment and holistic care for individuals who present with undiagnosed medical conditions and injuries.
We will afford care to those who, by nature of their presenting circumstances, are temporarily unable to take responsibility for themselves.
The care offered will be delivered in a courteous manner and professionally by skilled practitioners.
We aim to deliver care in accordance with professional codes, standards and charters.
WHAT HAPPENS ON ARRIVAL AT EMERGENCY?
If you have been given a referral letter from your Doctor please hand this to the Receptionist.
All patients attending the Department will be assessed by a Nurse, this assessment process is referred to as ‘triage’. The purpose is to assess the seriousness of your condition and then to ensure that the most seriously ill or injured patients are treated first.
Initially, patients register at the reception desk. You will be asked for your name, address, date of birth and contact telephone number. This will be checked against any existing record on computer. You will also be asked the nature of your problem.
Interpreters may be available and we have access to interpreter services. Please inform a member of staff if this is required. If possible please bring an English-speaking relative or friend.
If you arrive by ambulance you will be met by a nurse who will take details from the ambulance crew.
The Nursing staff will make an assessment of your condition and may perform a few initial tests. The initial triage will generally be completed within the first 10 minutes of your arrival in the Department.
You will be seen by the Doctor according to the seriousness of your condition. The triage Nurse assigns a priority according to a nationally agreed system with five categories:
Immediate (Life threatening)
Very Urgent (Potentially life threatening)
Urgent (Non life threatening can wait for above to be seen)
Standard (Does not require urgent attention)
Non-urgent (Problems that do not necessarily need to be treated in the Emergency Department)
Generally relatives will be asked to wait in the waiting room whilst staff assess and treat patients. Only one or two relatives may accompany a patient in a cubicle, and relatives and friends are discouraged from accompanying patients to the X-ray Department.
HOW LONG WILL I WAIT?
This depends on the seriousness of your injury or condition and how many patients with more serious or urgent needs than you arrive in the Department while you are waiting. This is why staff can only offer an approximate waiting time, and this may change. The staff will do their best to keep you informed if waiting times are increasing.
If you are in the waiting area you will not usually see patients who are seriously ill or those who arrive by ambulance as they are treated in other areas of the Department.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Most patients are seen by the Emergency Department Doctor or an Emergency Nurse Practitioner.
Emergency Nurse Practitioners are senior Nurses who have had additional training so they can assess and treat minor injuries. These Nurses can send you to X-ray and treat appropriate injuries without the need to see a Doctor. The service is available at certain times of the day. You may be automatically offered a specialist Nurse if your injuries are deemed appropriate. However, please remember you will always have the right to see a Doctor if you so desire. Seeing an Emergency Nurse Practitioner means that some patients with minor injuries will be seen more quickly than those who require to see a Doctor.
Some patients are referred from their General Practitioner to the Emergency Department to see a specialist Doctor rather than the Emergency Department Doctor. In those cases, you will be assessed similarly to other patients. However, the waiting time is determined by the availability and workload of the receiving Doctor or team.
A series of blood tests may require to be performed. X-rays may require to be taken and treatments carried out thereafter. You will be kept informed at all stages of assessment and treatment.
Nursing, Medical and Paramedic Students gain experience in the Emergency Department and they will be introduced to you. You are able to choose whether or not you take part in student training. Students are supervised and do not care for patients independently.
If you have been suffering a medical problem for more than 48 hours, unless your condition has become suddenly worse, the best course of action is to contact your General Practitioner during surgery hours. Out-with surgery hours patients may still use the same telephone number and the call will be automatically redirected to the NHS24 helpline. If you feel you need to see a Doctor you should telephone the surgery number at anytime of the day or night.
Patients who attend the Emergency Department with non-urgent or long standing conditions may be referred back to their General Practitioner or given an appointment to attend the Out of Hours Service.
If you suffer a long standing illness or health problem your General Practitioner is likely to know your case and may be the best source of advice.
Patients with minor injuries may attend their General Practitioner during surgery hours and, depending on the treatment required, may have to attend the Emergency Department. Minor injury patients may find it easier to attend one of the Minor Injury Units closest to their home.
Other options include calling NHS24 on 111. This service offers health information and advice from specially trained nurses 24 hours a day. The Nurse at NHS24 may offer:
- an appointment to see a Doctor at the Out of Hours Service
- a home visit by a Doctor
- an ambulance to take you to hospital
- advice that you should attend the nearest Minor Injury Unit or Emergency Department.
You may also call your GP Surgery to make an appointment to see your own doctor or nurse within surgery hours.
The Emergency Department does not offer a dental service. You should ensure you are registered with a Dental Practitioner and use their emergency contact number if required. For further information and advice on dental emergencies go to Emergency Dental Services
Remember, you should attend the Emergency Department only if you believe that your problem cannot wait for a Doctor to arrive or you have suffered an acute injury.