When should I bring a loved one or myself to the ER?
Call 911 or immediately go to an emergency room when someone is experiencing the following:
- Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, wheezing
- Chest pain
- Fainting or dizziness
- Sudden numbness or weakness
- Sudden inability to see, speak, walk or move
- Confusion or changes in mental state
- Fever with convulsions, or fever in a child 3 months old or younger
- Bleeding that cannot be stopped
- Coughing or vomiting blood
- Blood in the urine or bloody diarrhea
- Severe headache or head injury
- Intense abdominal pain
If you or a loved one are not certain if a visit to the emergency room is necessary, please go to your nearest ER for an evaluation.
What should I do if a loved one or I am having chest pain?
Chest pain can be a sign of a heart attack. Call 911 or have someone take you to the closest emergency room if your chest pain lasts longer than 5 minutes or does not go away when you rest or take medication.
Other symptoms of a heart attack to look for are:
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain in back, upper abdomen, arm or shoulder
What should I do if I think someone is having a stroke?
When it comes to stroke, think F.A.S.T!
F – Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T – Time: If you see any of these sings, call 911 immediately.
Note the time that the symptoms first appear. Do not drive yourself to the hospital; call an ambulance so medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.
Minutes matter. Stroke treatments work best only if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within the first 3 hours of the first symptoms.
Will I be tested for COVID-19 if I go to the emergency room?
Your care team will evaluate your symptoms to determine whether you need a COVID test. Please let your care team know if you are experiencing COVID symptoms such as fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, headache, and/or nausea or vomiting.
If you are admitted to the hospital, we may test you for COVID so we can safely care for you. You may be tested even if you are not experiencing symptoms.
Is it safe to go to the emergency room?
The emergency room is the best place to be when timely medical care is required. It is important to treat serious medical conditions promptly before they worsen and become life-threatening. For many medical emergencies like heart attack and stroke, quick treatment can be the difference between life and death.
The risk of contracting COVID-19 in the ER is extremely low. Our team is taking precautions to keep the ER as safe as possible including limiting visitors, mask wearing, increased cleaning and disinfecting and the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE).
How long will I have to wait?
Our care teams do everything they can to see patients as soon as possible. Wait times depend on many factors including number of patients currently being seen and severity of patient ailments.
Sometimes patients need more time in the ER than predicted. We want to give our patients all the help and information they came for. While you are waiting, please let a staff member know if there is anything they can help you with.
Why are some patients seen before me even though I arrived before they did?
We understand seeing others get examined before you can be difficult. Emergency rooms use a system called triage to recognize which patients need urgent medical attention and treat them accordingly.
If, while waiting, you begin to feel so unwell that you start getting chills or become nauseated, please let a staff member know.
What should I bring with me to the ER?
The following items and information will be extremely helpful to your ER care team:
- List of current medications
- List of allergies
- Insurance cards and co-pay
- Photo ID
- Emergency contact information
If you ingested a poison or toxin, try to bring it with you, or be able to tell your care team what toxin you ingested. If you are going to the ER for an animal bite, be able to give as much information about where the animal that bit you came from.
Please leave valuables at home.
What can I do to be more comfortable while I’m waiting?
We understand it can be hard to wait when you aren’t feeling well. If possible, bring a family member or friend with so they can keep you company. Wear comfortable clothes and bring a blanket if you think you may get cold. Take this time to write out questions about your condition or goals for your visit. Make sure to share them with your care team.
If you are in the ER with your child, feel free to bring their favorite small toy, stuffed animal or a handheld electronic game to help keep them occupied.
Can I eat or drink while I wait in the ER?
Please talk with a staff member if you would like to eat or drink something. We may need to perform tests or procedures that require patients to have an empty stomach.
Please do not give your child anything to eat or drink if there is a chance they may need sedation or anesthesia for surgery.
What happens if I need to be admitted to the hospital?
You may be admitted if it is determined that you need further evaluation or treatment. Your care team will communicate with you and explain why you may need to stay at the hospital.
Once the decision has been made to admit you to the hospital, you will be taken to a patient room. If a room is not yet available, your care team will work to keep you as comfortable as possible until one is ready.
Your care team may run more tests, if needed. They will also assist you in contacting any loved ones, if needed. Please let your care team know if you have any questions about your care.
Can I still be seen if I don’t have health insurance?
How can I learn more about my eligibility for financial assistance?
If you do not see your question answered here, please call the Family Life Center at 310-900-7912.