10 signs you should definitely go to the emergency room
Hard to breathe…chest pains…rashes and fevers…where should I go for these? If your mom isn’t a nurse, like mine, you may not have someone to tell you whether you need to go to an emergency room or seek treatment at a local immediate care center.
I decided to ask a physician who deals with every case imaginable — at both a hospital ER and an immediate care center. Dr. Marc Spiller works as an emergency room physician at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove. He also treats patients at the Good Samaritan Outpatient Centers in Downers Grove and Lemont.
So which symptoms should send you to one or the other? Let’s start with the ER. “Certain warning signs should send you without delay to the emergency room,” Dr. Spiller says. Here are his Top 10:
- Pain or pressure in your chest
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (particularly on one side of the body)
- Abdominal pain with vomiting
- Fainting or sudden dizziness
- Prolonged vomiting or diarrhea (could indicate dehydration)
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Suspected poisoning
- Severe burns
- Sudden severe headache
Other less serious conditions — such as the flu, fevers, rashes, wounds, sprains and short-term diarrhea — may be treated just as effectively and perhaps more quickly at an immediate care center.
“Immediate care centers can often expedite the care of patients who have simple, straightforward conditions that need minimal intervention, like sore throats or even small wounds that may need stitches,” Dr. Spiller says.
These centers give you increased access to medical services, but they also give you faster service for those less acute medical problems.
Don’t worry. You can expect to receive the same level of professional care and service at an immediate care center as you would in the ER. In fact, patients who have been screened in advance by one of the physicians at an immediate care center are likely to get faster service if they do need to go to the ER.
Make your best judgment, but when in doubt go to the ER.
About the Author
Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.