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To Go To The Emergency Room or Not? How Do You Decide?

Have you ever found yourself wondering whether or not you should be going to the emergency room (and if you should drive yourself there or call for an ambulance), urgent care center, or just call your doctor? If so, you’re not alone. When someone incurs an injury or gets sick, how do you know what would be the best course of action? Using the guidelines below will you determine how to respond to different types of situations.


Always call 911 for an ambulance in situations involving things like:

  • Choking
  • Someone isn’t breathing or doesn’t have pulse
  • Head injuries accompanied by passing out, fainting, and/or confusion and nausea
  • Injuries to the neck or spine, especially if there is loss of feeling or an inability to move
  • Electrical shock or lightning strikes
  • Severe burns
  • Seizures that last 3 - 5 minutes or more


Either call 911 or go to the ER for situations involving:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Passing out, fainting
  • Severe chest pain or pressure
  • Pain in the arm or jaw
  • Unusual or bad headache, especially if it started suddenly
  • Suddenly not able to speak, see, walk, or move
  • Suddenly weak or drooping on one side of the body
  • Dizziness or weakness that does not go away
  • Inhaled smoke or poisonous fumes
  • Sudden confusion
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Possible broken bone, loss of movement, especially if the bone is pushing through the skin
  • Deep wound
  • Serious burn
  • Coughing or throwing up blood
  • Severe pain anywhere on the body
  • Severe allergic reaction with trouble breathing, swelling, hives
  • High fever with headache and stiff neck
  • High fever that doesn’t get better with medicine
  • Throwing up or loose stools that don’t stop
  • Poisoning or overdose of drug or alcohol
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Seizures


Go to Urgent Care Centers for non-life threatening situation, such as:

  • Common 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

Urgent Care Centers are extremely convenient for situations when you’re unable to get a timely appointment with your primary healthcare provider and also come in handy when travelling out of town and don’t want to have to wait till you get back home to receive treatment.


Remember… when in doubt, get it checked out. If you’re not sure what to do you can always make a call to seek advice from your primary healthcare provider. These days many providers even have an after-hours answering service or an advice hotline, which is convenient since injuries and sicknesses don’t always present between the normal workday hours of 9-5.


In addition, it’s always a great idea to have a fully stocked first-aid kit available in case of emergencies. Mountainside Medical Equipment has a wide range of first-aid supplies to meet all your needs. Browse through today and see what might work best for you and your family. Mountainside also offers a wide selection of wound care products and over-the-counter medications for at-home treatments.



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