Abstract Recent developments in biosensor and wireless technology have led to a rapid progress in wearable real time health monitoring. Unlike wired networks, wireless networks are subject to more packet loss and congestion. In this paper, we propose a congestion control and service prioritization protocol for real time monitoring of patients’ vital signs using wireless biomedical sensor networks. The proposed system is able to discriminate between physiological signals and assign them different priorities. Thus, it would be possible to provide a better quality of service for transmitting highly important vital signs. Congestion control is performed by considering both the congestion situation in the parent node and the priority of the child nodes in assigning network bandwidth to signals from different patients. Given the dynamic nature of patients’ health conditions, the proposed system can detect an anomaly in the received vital signs from a patient and hence assign more priority to patients in need. Simulation results confirm the superior performance of the proposed protocol. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt at a special-purpose congestion control protocol specifically designed for wireless biosensor networks.