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The Emergency Room (or ER) is a specialized admissions area in some hospitals for the treatment of "walk-in" patients who are in need of immediate medical care but are not scheduled to be admitted into the hospital. From Season 4 to Season 5, Allison Cameron worked in Princeton-Plainsboro's emergency room as Senior Attending Physician.
The Emergency Room differs from the walk-in clinic in several ways.
- The Emergency Room is generally open 24/7, whereas the clinic has regular hours.
- The Emergency Room has a regular full-time staff, whereas the clinic is staffed by all the doctors in the hospital on a rotating basis.
- The Emergency Room is able to deal with those patients who need immediate medical care as a result of trauma or other life-threatening conditions. However the job of the emergency room doctors is merely to get the patient stable (by, for example, treating for shock) before the patient is transferred to surgery or intensive care.
- Clinic patients are dealt with on a first-come, first served basis. Emergency Room care is based on triage - the most serious cases are dealt with first.
All this being said, not all the persons who come to the Emergency Room have life threatening conditions. Many people come for emergency treatment at hours when their regular family doctor may not be working, such as weekends. Other people may use the emergency room for treatment in place of a family doctor. As a result, emergency room doctors have to treat a wide range of conditions from the mundane to the complex.