Emergency Department at Sibley Memorial Hospital

GEDAP Bronze Seal

Sibley’s Emergency Department is available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. When you first come to the department with an emergency, you will be greeted at the reception desk by the nurse or EMT on duty. An admissions representative will enter your information into our computer system and begin the intake process.

Next, you will be evaluated for treatment, which involves gathering initial information to make a decision about where you will go in the department based on your level of need. This process can take place in the Quick Look bays, or your treatment room. A registered nurse will obtain your vital signs, gather more information about your symptoms and record your current medications and past medical history. 

In the treatment room, a physician or a physician assistant (PA) will see you. To accurately diagnose your condition, the physician or PA may order lab tests, X-rays or CT scans. The length of your visit will depend on the tests ordered.

At the end of your evaluation, you will either be admitted or discharged. If discharged, you will receive any prescriptions needed, instructions on how to care for your condition at home and information on your follow-up care.

Throughout the process, friends and family may stay by your side in the treatment bays or wait in the reception area by the entrance. This waiting area contains a vending area and two plug-in counters for charging and using electronic devices, among other amenities that make the wait more pleasant. There is also a separate family room, with a television and phone, for families that need a change of scenery. 

What is an Emergency?

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) recommends anyone with the following symptoms seek immediate medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
  • Unusual abdominal pain
  • Fainting, dizziness, weakness
  • Changes in vision
  • Confusion or changes in mental status
  • Sudden or severe pain
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Suicidal feelings
  • Difficulty speaking

Anyone who thinks they may be having an emergency should get to a hospital emergency department as quickly as possible, either by their own means or by dialing 9-1-1 for an ambulance. With children, ACEP recommends erring on the side of caution. Symptoms that may not be serious in an adult may be very serious in a child. The rule of thumb is always to seek medical attention if you think your child is having a medical emergency.

Intensive Care Unit

The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) specializes in the management of adult and geriatric medical and surgical patients who have or are at high risk for a variety of life-threatening conditions.

Emergency Department 30-minute Commitment

In recent years, Sibley has improved our Press Ganey patient satisfaction ratings to the 99th percentile — we’ve made processes more efficient in order to reduce the time patients spend in the Emergency Department. To improve our patient experience even more, we are introducing a new 30-minute Commitment to have patients seen by a health care provider within 30 minutes of arrival.

“We always push ourselves to be the best, and this is the next step in doing what’s best for our patients,” notes Jennifer Abele, M.D., director of Sibley’s Emergency Department. “The earlier we see patients, the sooner we can get treatment started, relieve pain and help reduce complications. We all live incredibly busy lives. Nobody likes the inconvenience of being ill or spending hours waiting to be seen.”

Making the Process Smarter

In order to shave minutes off wait times that are already among the nation’s shortest, emergency care at Sibley has been made as efficient as possible. Some of our improvements include:

  • Taking patients directly to exam rooms as soon as a bed is available
  • Completing registration at bedside
  • Parallel processing so doctors and nurses can simultaneously collect information, reducing the need for patients to repeat their story to different people
  • Getting X-rays, scans, blood work and other diagnostic test results back faster
  • Using our separate Fast Track area to treat and discharge patients with minor complaints more quickly (open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.)

The Sibley Emergency Department can be reached off of the main entrance to Sibley Hospital on Loughboro Road. Call 202-537-4080 for more information.

Awards and Recognition

Level 3 GEDA Accreditation

Sibley Memorial Hospital earned the bronze standard— Level 3 GEDA accreditation from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) for the hospital’s leadership in providing Emergency Department (ED) care for geriatric patients under ACEP’s new Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation (GEDA) program. 

Lantern Award

Sibley’s Emergency Department (ED) earned the 2017 Lantern Award™ from the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA). The award recognizes emergency departments that exemplify exceptional practice and innovative performance in the core areas of leadership, practice, education, advocacy and research. The Lantern Award designation is valid for three years.

Bethesda Magazine

The Sibley Emergency Department was named one of Bethesda Magazine’s Best of Bethesda 2014 “Top Vote-Getter” for Best Emergency Room

Primary Stroke Center

Sibley was also awarded Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. This certification signifies our organization’s dedication to fostering better outcomes for patients and that our stroke program meets critical elements of performance to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes for stroke patients.

Success Story Award

Press Ganey has also awarded the Sibley Emergency Department with the 2013 Success Story Award and the 2013 Guardian of Excellence Award.

Emergency Care Team

Emergency Department Care Team

As a patient in the Emergency Department, you will be treated by a team of highly skilled individuals who work closely to deliver the highest level of care. These may include:

  • A medical doctor (M.D. or D.O.) has overall responsibility for your care. All of our physicians are board certified (or eligible) in emergency medicine. Sometimes, a physicians assistant (PA) may assess your condition. PAs are certified health care professionals who work under the supervision of the physician.
  • A registered nurse will be assigned to you during your visit. This person will assess and monitor your condition, give you any medication that is ordered, maintain your IV and assist you with any needs during your visit.
  • A clinical associate (CA) may assist in your care. A CA may start your IV and collect lab specimens, transport you to tests and assist you as needed to make your stay as comfortable as possible.
  • A radiology technician will perform any X-rays or other imaging studies that you need.
  • A transporter may take you to and from an imaging study.
  • An admissions representative will gather your information to set up your permanent medical record.
  • A respiratory therapist will administer any special breathing treatments.
  • A social worker may assist with any special needs for discharge.

Frequently Asked Questions about Emergency Care