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When should I go to the emergency room (ER) rather than my doctor's office?

You should go to the emergency room (ER) or call 911 rather than go to your doctor's office for true emergencies. True emergencies include:

  • chest pain as this may be a sign of a heart attack
  • difficulty breathing, which may require additional support with breathing treatments or a breathing machine
  • large amount of blood loss, which may require a blood transfusion
  • trauma as in a motor vehicle or other accident
  • one-sided weakness or slurred speech, which may be a sign of a stroke
  • drug overdose, in which the person took drugs and is found unresponsive

The above are examples of true emergencies, which need immediate attention and are more appropriately triaged in the ER setting.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.