The emergency department is no one’s idea of a fun destination. But sometimes, it’s a life-saving necessity.
Knowing the difference between an emergency room visit and a call to the doctor can save a life. So when is it time to head to the ER? If you witness one or more of the following problems, seek emergency medical help immediately:
- Signs of a heart attack: Chest pain, nausea and cold sweats, shortness of breath, upper body or arm pain
- Signs of a stroke: Difficulty speaking, face drooping or numbness, arm weakness or numbness
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
- Uncontrolled or severe bleeding
- Blow to the head or back injury
- Deep or large wounds
- Coughing up or vomiting blood
- Severe pain
- Swallowing a poisonous substance
Although these may seem like obvious emergencies, in a moment of panic, people will often downplay their symptoms. They may be embarrassed or afraid to seek medical help. It’s best to err on the side of caution and take the person to the ER if you’re not sure. In many cases, seconds can count — and can mean the difference between life and death.
Call 911 or drive?
Many people have trouble deciding if they should call 911 or drive the person to the ER when faced with an emergency. In many cases, it’s best to have the help of the paramedics and ambulance. The ambulance may be able to get to the hospital faster, and paramedics have equipment to help the person on the way. If a person was injured, it’s often best not to move them. And lifting an unconscious or bleeding person could be dangerous.
If you or someone present knows CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), this may be the time to use it while you wait for the ambulance. CPR should be used on someone who isn’t breathing or whose heart has stopped to keep blood pumping until medical help arrives. And if you don’t know CPR, consider taking a class in your area. It’s easy to learn, and you could save someone’s life.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do in a medical emergency is remain calm. This is often the most difficult task as well. But staying calm will allow you to think clearly and make the best decisions in order to help with the emergency. When the paramedics arrive or you take the person to the ER, you may be asked questions about what happened and when. Being able to communicate can give the medical team valuable information. If you feel yourself starting to panic, take slow, deep breaths and ask for help if possible.
No one wants to be faced with an emergency, but knowing how to deal with one can help you have the best possible outcome.
CarePoint Health Primary Care
Your primary care physician can help you manage your healthcare, and answer any questions you have about your health. Your PCP will help you navigate your well visits and specialist care throughout your life, and will be your health care advocate. To find a skilled primary care physician at CarePoint Health, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.