A doctor checks a patient's pulse

When to Seek Emergency Care

When to Seek Emergency Care

It’s a common scenario: you’re chopping vegetables while preparing dinner and the knife slips, slicing your finger. It’s bleeding pretty badly, and you might need stitches, but does that mean you need to go to the emergency room? What about if you were involved in a relatively minor car accident, and now you’re dealing with some fairly significant back pain, making it hard to walk or sit for prolonged periods of time?

While some emergency situations are obvious, others are less so. How can you tell if you need emergency medical care? And when should you call 911 vs. drive yourself to the ER? Knowing when a situation is a medical emergency is critical—and could even save your life.

Here, we’ve put together helpful information on when you should seek emergency care. If you believe you or a loved one is currently experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or immediately go to the nearest emergency room. It is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your safety and your health.

Signs of a Medical Emergency

It is important that you never downplay serious symptoms or avoid going to the ER out of fear of admitting that something is wrong. Many patients worry that they will be labeled as “overdramatic” or that they will be “wasting someone’s time” if it turns out that they are not having an emergency, but this can be a dangerous mindset.

In fact, you should always call 911 or go to the ER if you believe you are having a medical emergency. It is far better to visit the emergency room for something less serious than to not go when you are experiencing a life-threatening condition.

The following symptoms and warning signs could indicate a medical emergency:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Sudden weakness or numbness, particularly on one side of the body
  • Signs of a heart attack or stroke
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Severe lacerations or open wounds
  • Major broken bones/fractures
  • Coughing up blood
  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in the urine or stool
  • Intense, localized abdominal pain
  • Fever in a child under the age of three
  • Fever with convulsions
  • Severe and/or sudden headache
  • Head injury or trauma
  • Sudden unexplained confusion
  • Changes in mental state
  • Confusion
  • Sudden loss of vision
  • Inability to speak, move, walk, etc.
  • Fainting or dizziness, especially in conjunction with other symptoms

Please note that this is not a complete list of emergency symptoms but, rather, a guide as to when you should seek emergency medical attention. It’s also important to consider how many symptoms you are experiencing and what those symptoms are. Remember, even seemingly mild symptoms could indicate a serious condition when multiple symptoms are present.

If you have any serious symptoms or have been severely injured and you are not sure whether you should go to the emergency room, head to the nearest ER as soon as possible and receive a professional evaluation. If you are experiencing non-emergency symptoms or a condition that is not life-threatening, you may wish to visit an urgent care center. View our blog on ERs vs. urgent care centers to learn more.

Contact ER of Texas for Faster, Better Emergency Services

ER of Texas provides a full range of fast, high-quality emergency medical services in Lewisville and the surrounding areas. Our team is available to assist you 24/7. Call us at or reach out to us via our online contact form today to learn more about our state-of-the-art facilities and comprehensive medical services. We are committed to providing our patients with the highest quality care in a comfortable, private, and welcoming environment.

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