Published on July 17, 2020

Should You Go to the Emergency Room?

person applying a band-aide

When you're in pain or something is not quite "normal" with your body it can be difficult to know what you should do and if your symptoms require a trip to the doctor. With the added stress of a pandemic, you might also be feeling hesitant to venture out to seek help. Rest assured, that no matter your injury, medical providers are ready to safely care for you—and you shouldn't hesitate. But where should you go? Below are lists of symptoms that providers are prepared to care for in urgent and emergency care settings.

A trip to the Emergency Department is recommended when the medical issue you're experiencing is critical and life-threatening. Below are examples of critical issues that would require you to call 911 so paramedics can start delivering care prior to getting to the emergency facility.

  • Head injuries
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting, sudden dizziness, or weakness
  • Bleeding during pregnancy
  • Vomiting or coughing blood
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Chest pain
  • Symptoms of stroke
  • Significant changes in your mental health (confusion or suicidal thoughts)
  • Sudden or severe pain
  • Dislocated joints

Urgent care centers provide medical care for minor injuries. These injuries usually do not threaten your life or have the potential to impair or disable your body. Urgent care centers are an option if you can't access your primary care provider in a timely manner. Many places now have the added ability to offer you a virtual visit, so you don't even have to travel to the office to receive quality care. Examples of injuries that urgent care centers can treat include:

  • Rash
  • Minor burns
  • Sprains
  • Minor broken bones (most urgent care centers have imaging capabilities on-site)
  • Common illnesses (flu, common cold, earache, headache, sore throat, fever)
  • Back pain

If you're still having difficulty determining what to do, call your primary care provider, even if it's not during normal business hours. Most doctor's offices have a provider on call 24/7 and can review your symptoms and determine next steps for care.

Keep in mind, regardless of your ailment, if you think you may have COVID-19 or have been exposed to COVID, it's important to disclose this prior to entering the facility or being transported by ambulance. This ensures the safety of you, the medical team, and other patients receiving care.