When to Go to The ER

The American College of Emergency Physicians has GREAT information about when to go to the ER and what to expect.

When Should I Go to the Emergency Department? (from ER101.org)


How do you decide when a medical condition rises to the level of a medical “emergency?”  The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) offers a list of warning signs that indicate a medical emergency.

  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
  • Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness
  • Changes in vision
  • Confusion or changes in mental status
  • Any sudden or severe pain
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Suicidal feelings
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual abdominal pain

Children have unique medical problems and may display different symptoms than adults.  Symptoms that are serious for a child may not be as serious for an adult.  Children may also be unable to communicate their condition, which means an adult will have to interpret the behavior.  Always get immediate medical attention if you think your child is having a medical emergency.

Bottom line? If you think that you or a loved one have an emergency, then come to the ED and have a physician evaluate you.  Dont try to second-guess yourself.  If you think that the condition is life-threatening and/or you can’t get them to the ER quickly enough, call 911.

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