Should I Go to the ER?

Sometimes we are faced with the difficult choice of whether or not to go to the Emergency Room for care. This is a decision no one takes lightly.

Here are some questions to help guide your decision whether a trip to the ER is necessary. These are intended to be a guide.  Ultimately, use your good judgment to determine if you need emergency services. 

  • Is my life in danger?
  • Has my doctor or care provider advised me to go to the ER?
  • Am I experiencing signs of a heart attack or stroke?
  • Do I have active bleeding that does not stop after 10 minutes?
  • Am I experiencing shortness of breath?
  • Am I in severe pain?
  • Any emergent threats to my life or health?
  • Am I having a reaction causing difficulty breathing?
  • Have I had a major injury, such as a head trauma?
  • Do I have any unexplained stupor, drowsiness, or disorientation?
  • Am I coughing up or vomiting blood?
  • Do I have severe or persistent vomiting?
  • Am I having suicidal or homicidal feelings?

The emergency room’s primary role is to stabilize a patient until they can be seen by primary care.  If your health complaint is not emergent, it is best to call your primary care provider and arrange for an appointment.  This will help you avoid unnecessary lengthy wait times as well as costly ER bills.

For after hours care, consider the following:

  • Call your on-call primary care provider’s after hours help line before going to the ER
  • Urgent care or walk-in clinics are an option that allows you to be seen that same day.
  • Or, make an appointment with your primary care provider.


As always, for any and all life threatening or emergent health care needs, we encourage use of the emergency room.