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The Emergency Room (ER): Drama and Tension

Updated on November 8, 2009

The Typical ER Scenario

An elderly man who had a stroke; a woman soon to be a mother; a child who had broken her leg; a car accident victim; a man who had been shot – these are just some of the common players in the drama that usually unfolds in the emergency room (ER) of a hospital. Of course, among the most important players are the doctors, the nurses, the orderlies, and other medical personnel whose functions and responsibilities cover the stirring world of the ER.

The emergency room (ER) indeed can easily be considered as among the busiest sections in any hospital. Depending on the size and type of a hospital, the level of care it provides, as well as the target population it caters to, the hustle and bustle in an ER with its associated pressures may vary.

As an area in a medical facility that is in constant flurry, the ER is one tension-filled section to be, at any time. You cannot predict the type of medical emergency that comes through its doors; and you never know what will happen next in any of the patients in critical condition. Thus, the ER is a place wherein you are always on your toes, be prepared for anything – inevitable or not as you seem to be always on the verge of something, and everything seems to be perennially hanging on the edge.

Although basically the same to a certain extent, the pressure experienced within the walls of the ER varies according to the person involved. In this hub, we will try to experience ER and its associated drama and tension as experienced by the various participants in typical happenings characteristic of an ER scenario.

ER, TV Show

Tension-filled ER-Drama as Portrayed by Various Players

The neutral onlooker

This person may just happen to be in the ER at a certain time as a curious onlooker. He/she may either be an employee of the hospital or not. Although not directly involved in any ongoing activity and tension in the ER, this person could still feel the distinct ambiance present in this hospital section.

The significant onlooker

This person could be an immediate family, a relative, or a friend of a patient being treated or awaiting treatment in the ER. As such, this individual may experience varying degrees of stress depending on his/her affinity to the patient, the severity of the patient’s condition, and the types of treatment being given to the patient in the ER.

If you’re the immediate family of someone in critical condition, your tension would be very intense. You may not even notice any other activity in the ER but the one going on to save your loved one – IV insertion, blood sampling, hooking of various medical devices and apparatus, etc.

The Patient

The patient’s tension experienced within the confines of the ER would be varied depending on his condition and its severity. If the patient is conscious, he/she may be anxious to know the doctor’s findings regarding his/her medical condition. The various medical apparatus, tests, and medications being administered would all add to the anxiety the patient is experiencing too.

The nurses

If you are an ER Nurse, you’d experience another form of pressure that’s quite characteristic of the critical nature of the ER atmosphere. There are very unpredictable cases and events that can occur in the ER. And to react positively, you need to be one step ahead of every possible occurrence – that alone can increase the pressure experienced by ER nurses.

When I was a student nurse, I was often assigned to the ER during the 11 pm to 7 am shift. Since our school’s medical facility was a moderately sized general hospital, we seldom get admissions during the night. But every time a vehicle stopped in our front doors, we were immediately on our toes – apprehensive of the case that we might find. People naturally tend to go to the hospital during daytime, so when somebody is brought to the hospital in the middle of the night, the case is usually serious or needing immediate medical intervention.

But it is really wonderful to work in the ER, as you get to attend to all types of medical cases and emergencies. And during my student days when case studies and nursing care plans are required in every ward rotation, the ER assignment would always be a welcome respite from such demanding paper works.

The doctors

The burden laid on the doctors’ shoulders is perhaps the heaviest as everybody tends to look up to them for relief of patient’s symptoms or stability of his/her condition.

The pressure that rests on the ER Nurse and doctors is variable and can be dependent on several factors such as:

  • The size, type, and level of specialization of the hospital – A large, public hospital is open and accessible to a lot of people from the lower to the middle income families. Thus, ER’s of these hospitals would naturally be flooded with patients most of the time. This would tend to keep the ER Nurses and doctors on their toes almost throughout their duty.
  • The time of duty – The ERs of most private hospitals tend to be less busy during nighttime, as people with non-critical conditions tend to wait for daylight to seek admission. So most of the cases being admitted at night would be very critical such as victims of accidents, gunshots, stab wounds, and acute medical conditions like stroke, heart attack or asthma. During daytime, all types of medical emergencies are possible. ER personnel would almost have no time to rest, especially in big public hospitals that cater to the lower income families.

Other hospital personnel

The ER scene may also include other hospital personnel at any given time. Hospital employees like medical technologists, orderlies, nursing aides, midwives, and radiology technicians may be found in the ER too, either carrying out their duties or just happened to be there for some errands or during their free time.

The tension in the ER can really be felt even by onlookers. Even when there are but a few patients being admitted, the ER is still covered by an invisible tension. It’s as if an indistinguishable shadow is hovering above, applying an indescribable pressure on the emergency room atmosphere and everyone within the walls of the ER.

What's your role in your most unforgettable ER experience?

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    • profile image

      Koyie 3 years ago

      I thought I'd have to read a book for a diosrvecy like this!

    • profile image

      Layla 3 years ago

      Beryl , what an Beryl , what an amazing repcie, I followed your directions to the T and it was amazing my wife and 2 children 3 & 5 yrs old all ate it up. AMAZING , That night the kids slept wit my wife & I because they do that some nights and all 4 of us were in our king size bed and Laughing because those beans gave us some wonderful anal artillary. I will check out some of your other video's as wellBlessings and Grace,Warren Tibbs , KC Missouri

    • profile image

      Ella 3 years ago

      Always the best content from these prdgioious writers.

    • Melody Lagrimas profile image

      Melody Lagrimas 8 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you very much, Jesusmyjoy and cindyleedavis, for dropping by and for commenting. Will visit your hubs soon too.

    • cindyleedavis profile image

      cindyleedavis 8 years ago from

      Great Hub, it is very informative. I like how you tied it in with the tv show. Thank you

    • jesusmyjoy profile image

      Betty Bolden 8 years ago from Bucyrus Ohio

      Great hub, thank yu

    • Melody Lagrimas profile image

      Melody Lagrimas 8 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks a lot for sharing that, Peggy.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I never worked in the ER as a nurse but started my career in the OR. Some tension there also depending upon the specialty and case. The most time I've spent in ER's was accompanyiny some family members.

    • Melody Lagrimas profile image

      Melody Lagrimas 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Ethel, am sure you're very familiar with how the ER buzzes, thanks.

      franciaonline, thanks for your comment too. That is really true.

      kiran8, thank you very much for dropping by.

    • kiran8 profile image

      kiran8 8 years ago from Mangalore, India

      Great info, thanks a lot...

    • franciaonline profile image

      franciaonline 8 years ago from Philippines

      I like this video that illustrates the tension at the ER. Reading your hub makes me realize beyond the cerebral level the value of each moment at the ER. Any little delay can spell the difference between life and death! Thanks for this hub.

    • franciaonline profile image

      franciaonline 8 years ago from Philippines


    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Work in admin at a hospital so my role would preferably away on holiday:) Nice read though