When it comes to knowing when to make a trip to the emergency room, the answer tends to vary with many. Some will say that ER visits are unnecessary, while others will say that it’s best to err on the side of caution and make the visit. There are several things to consider when deciding whether or not to make a trip to the ER. Whenever an illness or injury occurs, you must first determine how serious it is and how soon to get medical care. This will help you choose whether it is best to:

  • Contact your healthcare provider
  • Go to an urgent care clinic
  • Go to an emergency room immediately

What is the difference between the Emergency Room and Urgent Care?

Unless a condition is life-threatening and risking disability, a trip to urgent care is generally a better use of a patient’s time and resources to treat injuries, fevers, infections and other conditions. Urgent care clinics often have shorter wait times than the ER and cost less than a traditional hospital emergency room visit. The kinds of problems an urgent care clinic can treat include:

  • Common mild illnesses, such as colds, the flu, earaches, sore throats, migraines, low-grade fevers, and limited rashes
  • Minor injuries, such as sprains, back pain, minor cuts and burns, minor broken bones, or minor eye injuries

You should call 911 or head to the emergency room if you’re systemically sick. That’s when an illness affects your entire body, and you have severe pain or sudden onset of severe symptoms, a fever that won’t break, or “something doesn’t work,” i.e. you’re unable to move an arm or leg or breathe normally. The following are health problems in which it is recommended to go to the emergency room:

  • Severe physical trauma such as that caused by a car accident
  • Loss of consciousness (fainting) due to an injury or causes an injury
  • Severe abdominal pain – especially with fever
  • Sudden and severe headache
  • Serious bleeding
  • Coughing up blood, blood in your vomit or bright red blood from your rectum (that is not related to hemorrhoids)
  • Sudden chest pain or the feeling of a heavy weight on your chest
    • This could indicate a heart attack. Other signs of a heart attack include pain in the left shoulder or arm, a burning sensation or aching under the breastbone (which can be confused with heartburn), light-headedness, or jaw pain.
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the arms or legs and/or sudden onset of blurred vision, which could indicate a stroke
    • Other possible signs of a stroke include disorientation and difficulty speaking
  • A very rapid pulse at rest without a fever that is not related to exercise or emotional stress

While you or the patient may have a primary hospital, an emergency may warrant going to the nearest emergency location for immediate treatment. Here at Village Health, our emergency room is the best place for actual emergencies. With our efficient and capable staff and commitment to providing the best care for our community, you can be assured that your needs will be taken care of with us.

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