Certainly if you have a major trauma or accident, you should visit the emergency room.
But, there are other reasons to go to the ER such as any symptoms that interrupt your life or your ability to function–
- severe chest pain,
- shortness of breath,
- stroke-like symptoms (including numbness),
- suicidal thoughts.
If you have a primary care doctor, here are some reasons to be seen by your doctor (assuming it is during office hours) on an emergent basis
- abdominal pain,
- back pain, bites (animal or human),
- coughs and sore throats,
- cramping or bleeding while pregnant,
- dizziness or other balance problems,
- fevers (especially in the very young or old),
- mood changes,
- rashes or allergic reactions,
Your emergency room experience (or wait time) goes depends on your level of acuity– meaning how urgent is your medical issue. The more urgent (like chest pain or possible stroke) are frequently taken straight back to a room in the ER for physician evaluation. Lower acuity problems like back pain or sore throat may mean a longer waiting room time.
Also, consider HOW you are getting to the emergency room. At times, driving yourself or a loved one to the emergency room won’t get you care fast enough. In those instances, call 911. The paramedics can deliver life-saving care on the way to the ER.