Did you know that 17% of ER visits are unnecessary? That adds up to about $4.4 billion in avoidable costs! Of course, when you’re in the middle of being violently ill, your back pain makes it hard to get out of bed, or your baby is running a high fever, it can be hard to know whether or not a trip to the emergency room is warranted. Often, in these situations, we panic and race to the ER.

In this post, we’ll go over the differences between the emergency room, urgent care, and walk-in clinic and which medical emergencies are worth a trip to each. Knowing these differences ensures that you can make the right choice the next time you need (or think you need) emergency care.

when to go to the emergency room
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When To Go to the Emergency Room

A good rule of thumb to remember is that you should always head to the emergency room when life or limb(s) are at risk. The ER is staffed around the clock and is ready for any critical situation — no matter the time, date, or holiday.

If you or a loved one start experiencing any of the following, head to the emergency room closest to you ASAP:

  • Severe physical trauma (i.e., injuries from a car accident)
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Suicidal or homicidal feelings
  • Weakness or numbness on one side of the body, jaw, or face
  • Fainting or a change in mental state
  • Slurred speech
  • Severe burns
  • Injuries to the head or eye(s)
  • Concussion or extreme confusion (unable to remember name, date, or other essential information)
  • Fever with a rash
  • Seizures
  • Severe cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Severe cuts that might need stitches (cuts that won’t stop bleeding or wounds that won’t close)
  • Broken bones
  • Facial lacerations
  • Dislocated joints
  • Severe allergic reactions, including swelling lips and difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Vaginal bleeding in pregnant women.
  • Stroke
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Poisoning
  • Coughing up blood
  • Blood in your vomit
  • Red blood from the rectum that’s not related to hemorrhoids
  • A very fast pulse without a fever (not related to exercise or stress/anxiety)

                        When To NOT Go To The Emergency Room

                        when not to go to the emergency room
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                        You can prevent a costly trip to the ER if you or a loved one starts experiencing any of these symptoms, which are better suited for treatment at an urgent care center:

                        • Wheezing
                        • Shortness of breath
                        • Fever with no rash
                        • Persistent vomiting
                        • Persistent diarrhea
                        • Abdominal pain
                        • Dehydration
                        • Moderate flu-like symptoms and other common illnesses like the cold, ear pain, migraines, and low-grade fevers
                        • Sprains and strainsMinor cuts that may need stitches
                        • Mild asthma attacks
                        • Painful urination

                                              When To Go To Urgent Care For Treatment

                                              • Mild flu-like symptoms
                                              • Cough
                                              • Congestion
                                              • Sore throat
                                              • Ear pain
                                              • Red eyes with discharge and itchiness

                                                When To Call 911

                                                Sometimes, an emergency is so severe that it requires a call to 911 and immediate care in an ambulance. You should memorize and observe the following symptoms that warrant a call to 911:

                                                • Difficulty breathing
                                                • Choking that does not stop
                                                • Heart attack symptoms, including chest pain, left arm or jaw pain, and sudden weakness or dizziness
                                                • Signs of a stroke
                                                • Life- or limb-threatening injury

                                                      You should never go to an emergency room or call 911 for the following:

                                                      • To get a prescription refilled
                                                      • For a second opinion
                                                      • If your family doctor is not available

                                                          We hope this post helps you better handle medical emergencies that pop up and know how to distinguish between an emergency and a non-emergency.

                                                          Some other preparations you can take now include getting phone numbers for the following places and writing them down in a safe and easily accessible spot:

                                                          • Your health care provider
                                                          • The closest ER
                                                          • A nurse telephone advice line
                                                          • The nearest urgent care clinic
                                                          • The nearest walk-in clinic
                                                                  Envision Medical Group Can Help

                                                                  Envision Medical Group is here for you if you are unsure what to do. If you are not experiencing one of the conditions listed above but still experiencing pain or illness, give us a call and find your provider. We’ll help assist you in determining the appropriate level of care.