Since COVID-19 pandemic hit, Emergency Room visits have drastically declined. The general population avoided and continue to avoid the ER for fear of contracting COVID-19, furthermore, your loved ones can’t even go with you into the hospital and are asked to stay outside causing even more fear and uncertainty. This has brought attention to the appropriate use of emergency rooms, what constitutes an emergency vs. a non emergency.
Having long wait times in the ER more than likely means your symptom is not a true emergency. Emergency rooms are for emergencies. But what if you are having symptoms and you are not sure if it is emergent or not? If you feel ok to call your doctor, do so, they can guide you. You can also try calling a nurse advice line which is often found on the back of your insurance card or on the internet. An urgent care is also an option, they are able to distinguish emergent symptoms and will either call 911 for you or advise your driver to drive you to ER.
These are some examples of symptoms that warrant an ER visit by calling 911 or having someone drive you to ER.
- Sudden and severe chest pain, pressure, tightness or heaviness as if there is an elephant sitting on your chest. This may be accompanied by radiating left arm or jaw pain, a cold sweat, vomiting or difficulty breathing.
- Sudden and severe headaches, the worst headache of your life. A headache after a head injury. Headaches accompanied by dizziness, vision changes, slurred speech, loss of balance. Headaches with fever, stiff neck and vomiting.
- Sudden and severe difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Difficulty breathing affecting the way you talk. Difficulty breathing accompanied by chest pain, nausea, vomiting, fainting.
- Severe pain especially rated 10 on a 0-10 pain scale, comparable to the worst pain you’ve ever felt in your life.
- Sudden and severe dizziness, confusion, clumsiness, difficulty speaking, fainting. Facial droop, sudden weakness to one side of the body.
- Seizure that has not been diagnosed from before.
- Severe head and neck injuries especially if symptoms develop later like fatigue, vomiting, severe mood swings, headaches, stiff neck.
- Fevers, in newborns of greater than 100.4 F or in adults greater than 104F especially if accompanied by other severe symptoms such as racing heartbeat, diarrhea, vomiting.
This is not a complete list, but some examples. Don’t be afraid of catching COVID-19 in our ER’s. For non emergencies, you can always call Signature Nurse to handle your other nursing needs.
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