According to the CDC, “one in five Americans report visiting the emergency room at least once in the past year.” But are all of those visits necessary – and if not, how do you tell when an emergency is truly an emergency that requires after-hours treatment or if it can wait until the next morning?

When you should go to the ER:

  • Broken bones and dislocated joints
  • Deep cuts that require stitches- especially on the face
  • Head or eye injuries
  • Severe flu or cold symptoms
  • High fevers
  • Fevers with rash
  • Fevers in infants
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Severe pain, particularly in the abdomen or starting halfway down the back
  • Bleeding that won’t stop or a large open wound
  • Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Serious burns
  • Seizures without a previous diagnosis of epilepsy

When you shouldn’t go to the ER:

  • Symptom onset is gradual
  • You already know that diagnosis but are unable to get a same-day appointment with your primary care physician
  • Conditions that are not life- or limb- threatening, but require immediate care
  • Sprains
  • Sore throats
  •  Urinary tract infections
  • Mild asthma
  • Rash without fever
  • Broken bones of the wrist, hand, ankle or foot that have no obvious need to reset and have not broken the skin.

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