What Should I Visit the ER For?

An emergency is defined by Oxford Languages as “a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action”, but this is still a very ambiguous definition that leaves a lot of grey spaces. When it comes to someone you love, every dangerous situation will require immediate attention or care.

Deciding on whether to go to the ER can be a tough call, especially considering we are still in the middle of a pandemic, not to mention urgent care has a tendency to be much more expensive than your primary care physician’s office.

Taking that into consideration, we will provide a list of symptoms that will serve as a guide for you to know when it is needed to go to an ER, or if it is better for the situation to go to an Urgent Care Clinic or wait for an appointment with your primary care doctor. If after reading this list you are still not sure, you can call your doctor’s office or the nurse telephone advice line; they will provide adequate advice on whether you should go to an ER or not.

Possible Causes of an Emergency:

  • Infections
  • Poisoning (either with food or other dangerous substances)
  • Ulcers
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Hypothermia
  • Contusions
  • Falls
  • Intoxication
  • Breathing conditions
  • Arrhythmia
  • Among many others.

Symptoms that should make you visit the ER:

  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Sweating with no apparent reason
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Fractures (of any type, but specially if it is a displaced or open wound fracture)
  • Sudden numbness or weakness
  • Bleeding that is being hard to stop
  • Intense abdominal pain
  • Seizures
  • Fever with convulsions
  • Fever in children under 3 years of age
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Any neurological symptom like changes in mental status, confusion, sudden blindness
  • Head injury, specially if the individual is taking aspirin or any other blood thinner
  • Blood in urine
  • Sudden inability to speak
  • Sudden inability to move
  • Overdose of drugs or alcohol
  • Severe headaches along with stiff neck (could be a sign of meningitis)
  • Any excruciating pain that will not go away

In case you have different symptoms or an underlying or chronic medical condition, the ER is probably not the best choice; you should instead schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor, where you can calmly talk about your symptoms and they can schedule tests according to your specific condition.

Physicians recommend to always have an “emergency file” on hand, this is a package containing your insurance cards, a list of prescriptions or medications you are taking, a list of any chronic conditions you have, surgeries, allergies, and test results. You should keep this folder handy and by the door so you can easily grab it in case of an emergency.

If you are still in doubt regarding if your situation requires you to make a visit to the ER, it is better to go, and in case it is not an emergency, they will give you further instructions. A lot of people refuse to go to the ER even when they do have a potential emergency because they don’t want to risk paying more and wasting time. If you are not sure, it is best to “waste” a little time and resources than risk something more severe happening.

Keep in mind that at Formé Medical Center, we offer urgent care services in case you need it, and we have the best team available for you. Remember we have in-person appointments or our Telemedicine service. To learn more about our urgent care services or to schedule an appointment, you can give us a call at 914 723 4900.