Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care

X-ray and Labs

A man is getting an MRI

X-ray and labs are often the first things to be covered in emergency medical care. They hold information crucial to saving the life of a patient, and ensuring that the most appropriate medical care is administered. In the world of emergency medical care, steps are constantly being taken that allow the emergency response unit to know as much about the patient prior to their medical emergency as well as the state they are in when they become a patient's emergency care providers.

Emergency X-ray Equipment

Although usually not as important as defibrillators and resuscitation equipment, emergency rooms often have their own x-ray equipment, including CT scanners and ultrasound equipment; radiologists, cartographers and related personnel needed to operate this equipment are also on standby. This allows the emergency response unit to react as quickly as possible when a patient enters the emergency room with a complaint.

Generally, in hospitals, X-rays are only done by appointment as the equipment is housed in its own department, and an X-ray technician must operate it. It is not like a stethoscope or thermometer that any doctor or nurse would know how to operate. The only time when X-ray equipment is used outside of an appointment is when there is an emergency. Emergency X-rays will be performed at once.

Possible Reasons for a Delay

The technician will first check with women who could possibly be pregnant so that if necessary, care can be taken to avoid the lower abdominal area. Women who say they are not pregnant will be asked to sign a consent form.

The number of personnel in an X-ray room can vary from one to up to four individuals:

  • Consultant radiologist
  • Radiographer
  • Specialist radiographer
  • Nurse
  • Assistant practitioner
  • Imaging department assistant

All of these professionals are trained in the field of radiology.

Preparation for X-Ray

The patient will be prepared just as a patient in a non-emergency setting. Certain articles of clothing, jewelry and other accessories containing metal will be removed, and the patient will have to don a gown or they will be covered with a special blanket.


Labs that are needed in emergencies are called STAT Labs. Oftentimes, the emergency room will have its own STAT Lab so that important information can be gathered quickly, such as a patient's blood count, blood type, and toxicology report. When the emergency room does not have its own stat lab, then the general lab in a hospital will handle all test requests from the emergency room as the most urgent, and they will do the necessary testing and get the results back to emergency personnel ASAP. In order to get tests done this quickly, they must be marked with the word STAT. When non-critical tests are marked stat, it creates an unnecessary backlog, and could have dire consequences. The best procedure, and the only procedure at times in emergencies, is to have the specimens hand-delivered to the STAT lab and more specifically to the STAT window.

Getting Lab Results

Results will be sent to the computer in the emergency patient care unit. If there is no computer, then someone will call the unit with the results.

When test results are delivered via a phone call, then the written results must also be delivered to a leading individual in the emergency room.

Types of Tests

Emergency lab testing can be done around the clock, and results are usually obtained in 30 minutes to 1 hour. Only a couple of tests requires a two-hour waiting period before the results can be obtained. The tests that can be done are limitless. There are allergy tests, blood tests, and urine tests, tests for glucose and nutritional testing. STAT Microbiology testing is also available.

Faster Emergency Healthcare

By going to a specialized emergency center that is not affiliated with a hospital, a patient's X-ray and lab needs can be met much more quickly. These centers are growing in number as an increase in the realization of their benefits develops.

Acquiring X-ray and labs results is the sole responsibility of the medical staff and does not fall upon the patient. As the swiftness and detail put into obtaining these results could mean the difference between life and death, they must be handled with the utmost care and given top priority.