Incoming hospital patients are most commonly evaluated based on the five-level Emergency Severity Index (ESI) to determine the order in which they should be treated:
- Level One: Patients with life-threatening/critical condition(s) and/or patients who are unresponsive. This level is immediately bedded.
- Level Two: High-risk patients with unstable vital signs. These patients are experiencing severe pain or sickness.
- Level Three: Stable vital signs but significant discomfort and/or sickness is present. Often more than two resources are needed to make patient disposition.
- Level Four: Low risk patient with stable vital signs. One resource is needed to make patient disposition. Often treated through fast-track, if available at the facility.
- Level Five: Low-risk patient with stable vital signs. No resources are needed. For example, a patient needing a prescription or a patient needing a cut stitched. Patients at this level are often seen through a fast-track, if available.