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When To Go The Emergency Room

Updated on January 9, 2015

Do you know when to go to the emergency room?

Do you know when to go the hospital in an emergency? Hospitals may refer to by it different names (the emergency room, er, accident & emergency, emergency department, casualty department, emergency ward..) but ,whatever you call it, there is often confusion about when is the correct time to seek help from hospital departments specializing in acute medical care.

Knowing when to go to the emergency room is vital. Too much time is often spent debating whether an emergency medical situation warrants urgent care or not. Keep reading and learn the symptoms and scenarios in which a trip to the er is necessary.

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When Should You Go to the Emergency Department to Seek Help?

More than any other department in a hospital, the emergency department deals with a vast array of medical conditions. By its very nature the emergency room, or emergency department, of a hospital is aimed at those experiencing a critical or life-threatening situation. Most people are aware that the emergency section of a hospital is not to be used as a walk-in general doctor's practice but confusion reigns as to whether certain physical conditions require urgent emergency medical care by emergency room physicians or could be better dealt with in smaller clinics. It is crucial to know when to go to the emergency room.

If you have a physical condition which has been present for two or three days, or which is a minor nuisance only, then it may be more appropriate to go to your local doctor's clinical to seek medical assistance. By choosing to access local health clinics in a non-critical situation you will receive quicker treatment, free up the emergency department personnel to deal with individuals experiencing severe life-threatening events such as heart attacks and also, in many countries, save a lot of money in hospital treatment expenses. Many doctor's clinics have emergency out of hours services for individuals needing urgent care but who are not in a life-threatening situation. Some countries also provide national phone lines which provide medical advice and can help you locate the correct service for your needs (NHS Direct in the UK,1177 in Sweden, Healthline in New Zealand).

Symptoms Which Indicate an Urgent Trip to the Emergency Room may be Required

  • pain or pressure in the chest
  • severe or unusual abdominal pain
  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • uncontrollable bleeding
  • coughing or vomiting blood
  • sudden confusion or a change in mental status, including hallucinations.
  • strong suicidal feelings
  • sudden vision changes
  • sudden difficulty speaking or pronouncing words
  • persistent and uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea
  • an injury which requires stitches or x-rays
  • severe allergic reactions

Video: When to go to the emergency room

Should I Call an Ambulance?

Should you go to the emergency room yourself or call an ambulance? If you are at the stage of considering calling an ambulance it is best to trust your instinct and immediately ring your emergency services phone number in your country (911 in the US & Canada, 999 in the UK, 112 in the European Union).

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Trust your Instinct

It is highly important in critical situations to trust your gut instinct if you are genuinely unsure of what to do. Whilst many people run unnecessarily to an emergency department with the flu or a stomach bug many more die because people waited too long to get help. If in doubt seek help!

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      Maria 3 years ago

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    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 5 years ago from US/TN

      Good advice!

    • profile image

      drdisaia 5 years ago

      Pretty good.

    • fungusclinic lm profile image

      fungusclinic lm 5 years ago

      Very good information because we always ignored these points.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nice info. Often ignored!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Good information.

    • Jack2205 profile image

      Jack 5 years ago

      Excellent information about emergencies.

    • casquid profile image

      casquid 5 years ago

      Thank you for the free advice! I will enjoy your lenses. Keep writing!

      Angel Blessed!!

    • jadapotata profile image

      jadapotata 5 years ago

      Great lens! A few weeks ago I had to call 911 and take my husband to the ER. He had a seizure for the first time in his life. Terrifying night!