We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

In Medicine, what is the Golden Hour?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jan 21, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The golden hour is a window of opportunity in which rapid medical intervention can save a patient's life or make a significant difference in the level of impairment a patient experiences after recovering from a medical emergency. People often use this term in the context of trauma medicine, where many members of the lay public are aware that rapid transport to a trauma center can make the difference between life and death, but it is also important for treatment of strokes, heart attacks, and other medical issues.

The “hour” in this case is actually more flexible than the slang term would have many people believe. For some medical issues, patients need critical medical attention in minutes, not an hour, or they will die. A classic example is a patient with an injury like a ruptured aortic aneurysm, where blood loss would kill the patient in far less than an hour. Other patients may recover well if they receive treatment between two and three hours after the incident, rather than in the first hour.

As a general rule of thumb, the golden hour can be a useful tool for medical professionals. Stressing the need for prompt medical treatment to patients ensures that people enter the hospital as soon as possible after they start exhibiting symptoms like slurred speech or chest pain, providing more opportunities for treatment. For people like paramedics and ambulance crews, keeping the golden hour in mind is important for making decisions about how much treatment to provide at the scene before loading a patient up for transport to a hospital.

During the golden hour, the goal is to assess the patient, determine what is wrong, and start providing interventions to stabilize him. These can include surgery, medications, and other medical treatments. Prompt treatment can head off shock, reduce the risk of infection, and preserve the internal organs so the patient will be less likely to experience complications after the emergency is over.

Some of the most radical results with early treatment within the golden hour can be seen in the case of stroke. If a patient with a stroke arrives at a hospital and gets treatment within an hour, doctors can radically reduce the chances of cognitive deficits. The patient will find stroke recovery much easier, and will be less likely to need assistance after recovery because she will retain many key cognitive functions. When patients encounter delays in treatment, their brains tend to experience more damage, and they can develop severe impairments.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Rotergirl — On Mar 30, 2014

The "golden hour" concept is actually fairly new, as far as medicine is concerned. I first remember hearing the term in the late 70s or early 80s. But, it made sense in light of advances being made in trauma care. I mean, the paramedic program was just instituted in the early 70s, so on-the-scene trauma care was still novel. But it underlined what doctors had always said: the sooner a patient gets treatment, the better the prognosis. Head off the problems before they become problems and you're ahead of the game.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.