When to Go to the ER
It’s not always clear when you should go to the emergency room or when you should wait, but making the right decision can sometimes mean the difference between life or death.
Severe Stomach Pain: Know when to go
Stomach pain is the most common reason patients visit the ER. Everyone experiences stomach pain at some point. It can result from a variety of causes and occur in varying degrees of severity. So when is your pain serious enough to go to the emergency room?
You should seek immediate medical attention if your stomach pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- Stomach is hard and/or tender to the touch
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Inability to eat without nausea or vomiting
- Pain in your chest, neck, or shoulder
- Shortness of breath or dizziness
- High fever
- Irregular heartbeat
- Dark or black stool
- Vomit contains blood
Other symptoms that warrant a trip to the ER include:
Call 911 immediately if you have chest pain that is crushing or squeezing and is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain that spreads from the chest to the neck, jaw or arms
- Fast or irregular pulse
- Signs of shock
Signs of a heart attack may present differently in women, and may include:
- Unusual fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Discomfort in your gut
- Discomfort in the neck, shoulder, or upper back
Act immediately - call 911 if you think you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of a stroke. Quick action after symptoms appear saves brain cells and quality of life.
Signs of a stroke include, sudden:
- Numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Severe headache with no known cause
A concussion or any injury to the head can be very serious. If you have an injury to your head along with any of the following symptoms, you should go to the ER:
- Loss of consciousness, even briefly
- Any period of amnesia, or loss of memory of the event
- Slurred speech
- Feeling dazed or confused
- Worsening or severe headache
Back pain is a very common complaint, but it can sometimes indicate something serious that needs immediate medical attention. If your back pain is unrelenting or if the pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, you should immediately seek emergency care:
- Sudden numbness or weakness
- Loss of a neurologic function: confusion, slurred speech or inability to speak, loss of vision
- Bladder or bowel incontinence
Respiratory distress can be the result of chronic conditions like asthma or something as serious as heart failure. It is important to know when it is severe enough to go to the emergency room.
Signs that you should seek emergency medical treatment include:
- Breathing stops
- Severe shortness of breath that affects your ability to function
- Noisy, high-pitched, and rapid wheezing
- Pain or tightness in chest pain
- Coughing up blood
Without an x-ray, it can be hard to tell if a bone is broken, dislocated, or if you just have a bad sprain. In addition to pain, the below symptoms may indicate your bone is broken and you need medical attention:
- Bruising around the area
- Swelling: Injuries may cause fluids and sometimes blood to leak into surrounding tissue
- Deformity or a bone protruding through the skin
- Crepitus: a grating sound or sensation caused by friction between bone and cartilage or the fractured parts of a bone
The flu virus is very common and does not normally require a visit to the ER; however, for high-risk populations it can be very serious. These populations include:
- People over the age of 65
- Pregnant women
- People with certain diseases, such as asthma or COPD
- People with weakened or compromised immune systems
Signs that you should go to the ER with the flu include:
- Trouble breathing
- Vomiting uncontrollably to the point of severe dehydration
- If you develop complications such as pneumonia
Your ER experience:
So we can provide you with the quickest care possible, please bring the following:
- List of current medications or the actual medications
- List of known medical allergies
- A copy of results from any recent medical tests
- List of recent medical procedures
- Care preferences or restrictions
- A responsible adult or phone number for someone to contact
When You Arrive
When you arrive at the emergency room, a triage nurse will evaluate your symptoms and take your vital signs.
Priority of Patients
Patients with life-threatening illnesses or injuries take priority for treatment in the ER, followed by seriously ill or unstable patients. All others will be seen in the order of arrival. We strive to make any patient’s time in the waiting room as pleasant and brief as possible.
You will be registered after you have been seen by a medical professional. The registration clerk will obtain medical record and billing information. All patients will be medically screened, evaluated, and stabilized, regardless of insurance or ability to pay.
Our specially trained staff works together to provide patients with quality expert care. Our team includes:
- Board-certified physicians specializing in emergency and/or family medicine
- Nurses certified in emergency medicine and advanced cardiac life support
- Technicians with advanced EMS experience
All team members have undergone extensive, advanced training, enabling them to respond to any emergency quickly.
- Be sure to ask any questions before you leave. Every patient should leave the ER with a clear care plan.
- Please retain discharge paperwork, instructions, and medications if applicable. This information is vital to your ongoing care once you leave the ER.
- Contact your primary care provider after visiting the emergency room. This helps with your overall care plan. Additionally, if tests were performed and the results not received, your doctor can review those results with you. If you don’t have a primary care doctor, we can help you find one. Use the resources listed below or ask your emergency room physician.