According to the CDC, people made almost 146 million visits to hospital emergency rooms in 2018. Of these visits, most resulted in treatment and release, although 12.2 million people were admitted to the hospital and 2.2 million were taken directly to critical care units. It’s clear from the CDC figures that emergency rooms must manage large volumes of people, many with critical medical issues.
If you’re a visitor to an emergency room, it’s essential to understand that the main factor in who the emergency room sees first is the severity of that person’s condition. Regardless of who arrived first, the medical team will see the person who is having a heart attack ahead of someone with a sprained ankle. This makes sense, of course, and is based on the critical nature of each patient’s ailment. When going to the ER, be aware that the following five medical conditions will likely be given priority. It’s also a comfort to know that if you have any of these illnesses, you will also be given immediate attention.
Below are five of the top priority illnesses seen in emergency rooms:
Shortness of Breath
Fainting, Sudden Dizziness, or Weakness
Sudden Blurring of Vision
Changes in Mental Status, Confusion, or Disorientation
Persistent chest pains may indicate that a heart attack is in progress and are a sure sign to get to the emergency room. There are other reasons a person may have chest pains (for example, indigestion), but it’s important to allow the medical personnel at the ER to make that evaluation. As a precaution, when going to the ER with chest pains, let someone else drive. Should you become worse or faint while driving, a serious accident may result.
Shortness of breath can be caused by many things, some of which can be highly dangerous. Severe asthma attacks or serious allergic reactions can result in breathing difficulties. With some allergic reactions, swelling of the tongue may make any breathing extremely difficult, leading to a life-threatening condition. Anyone experiencing these sorts of conditions should go immediately to the ER.
Many factors can result in a person fainting or feeling suddenly weak. Conditions such as cardiac arrhythmia, hypoglycemia, low blood pressure may contribute to restricting oxygen to the brain. Should a person faint without a known cause – such as donating blood – should be taken to the emergency room?
Vision difficulties can indicate a stroke. Other causes include detached retina, blockage of arteries related to ocular nerves, and eye injuries. These and other conditions should be treated at once. Visit an emergency room immediately, however, do not attempt to drive.
There are many causes for sudden disorientation. This type of confusion differs from Alzheimer’s, which comes on gradually over months or years. If a person suddenly becomes confused, has trouble talking, doesn’t recognize people they should know, or struggles to focus, then they should be taken to an emergency room for an evaluation. Several medical conditions can cause a sudden onset of severe changes in mental status. Included in these are strokes, seizures, medications, low insulin levels, and very high fevers. It’s never a good idea to self-diagnose, so a trip to the ER is warranted.
There are many medical conditions other than the five listed above that require trips to the emergency room. Nevertheless, the above five occur frequently and are usually seen as soon as they arrive. At the Emergency Hospital Systems ER’s, we are staffed to handle most emergencies and work with our partner organizations to handle the most critical cases. This includes emergency transport to send patients to specialized treatment centers if the need arises.
Whether you suffer a sprain or believe you’re having a stroke, you can call on the Emergency Hospital Systems emergency rooms to be there for you. We are conveniently located in the communities we serve with two locations in Deerfield, and one each in Humble and Spring. We are easy to find with plenty of free parking. Walk-ins are welcome or, if you prefer, call for an appointment, 281-592-5400.