The researchers developed standardized guides to identify stable patients without serious or life-threatening illnesses. The guides addressed three general problem areas that are common among adults who visit ERs (muscle and joint pains; belly and pelvic pain; and colds, sore throats, earaches, or sinus symptoms). Experienced ER nurses used the guides to identify patients with less severe illness who might be willing to be seen the next day. Patients who agreed were then randomly assigned to “deferred care” at a set time in a clinic the following day or to “usual care” (remaining in the ER for care). Seven days later, researchers called all patients and asked questions about their health, ability to function, and preferences for type of care.