What to Expect – Patients

Patients may arrive by ambulance or may self-present. Some patients will be referred by their GP.


On arrival to the emergency department at SVUH, patients are directed to the reception area.

A set of medical records will be prepared, and the patient will be provided with an identification bracelet. We will have access to notes from previous emergency department attendances via our departmental I.T. system. Other hospital medical records will be available 24/7 if required by clinical teams.


Patients are then assessed by a triage nurse and given a priority rating which will determine the urgency with which they will be seen. The patient may be asked to take a seat in the lounge area outside triage or may be directed to one of the zones in the emergency department for immediate care. The nurse will also assess any pain. Analgesia will be offered. Sometimes patients are asked to remain fasting in case of the need for a surgical intervention.

Patients who arrive by Ambulance are taken to a receiving bay and allocated an appropriate triage category.



From here, patients will be assessed in order of clinical priority.

The emergency department has 5 main treatment areas:

  • Zone 1 – Resuscitation Area for critically ill patients
  • Zone 2 – Major Illness / Injuries Area
  • Zone 3 / Fast Track
  • RAT – Rapid Assessment and Treatment Area
  • Clinical Decision Unit  / Chest Pain Evaluation Unit

Patients who are deemed suitable to be managed in our Rapid Assessment and Treatment area, will usually be asked to sit in the patient lounge area while awaiting the results of investigations (bloods/x-rays etc). Many patients may be seen, treated and discharged from RAT if their problem can be easily addressed there. Other patients may require further assessment and treatment in one of our other clinical areas or as an inpatient.

Our Fast Track area is a specialised area in the Emergency Department for trauma and mechanical related musculoskeletal injuries. Please click here for full details.


If you require admission to the hospital as an inpatient, you may be admitted to our hospital, St. Columcille’s Hospital or to St. Michael’s Hospital. The latter 2 options may come into effect for patients from those catchment areas that are not requiring certain services that are only available at SVUH.

The hospital endeavours to get patients to an inpatient ward bed as soon as it is possible and safe to do so. At times there are delays in this process of onward movement of patients whose emergency care has been completed to a ward bed. This is what leads to “emergency department crowding”.