FAQ: When do I go to the emergency room?

Danelle Smit
Emergency Sign

You never know when a medical concern might arise. Not feeling well? Fell and think you broke a bone? Having chest pains?

It can be confusing to know where to turn for the most appropriate and effective care, especially when time matters.

Agnesian HealthCare offers a full spectrum of services that can most effectively match the level of care to your specific health concern.

Patients should go directly to the Emergency Department (ED) for life-threatening illnesses or injuries, or call 911 for emergency paramedic assistance.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Chest pain: Anyone over the age of 40 with chest pain should get to the ED immediately. If you are under 40 and have chest pain with other symptoms (shortness of breath, nausea, etc.) or risk factors (family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoker) seek immediate medical attention. When in doubt about any chest pain, she reinforces, get to the ED.
  • Abdominal pain: Individuals over the age of 50 with abdominal pain that lasts more than two hours should be checked immediately, as sometimes belly pain can be confused with heart pain. Those under the age of 50 with abdominal pain that lasts more than two hours and is accompanied by nausea, vomiting or fever should get to the ED.

Urgent care treats patients on a walk-in basis - from infants to older adults - with acute health illnesses or injuries, such as broken bones and lacerations. Ripon Medical Center and Waupun Memorial Hospital offer care through their emergency departments. Walk-in care offers well-patient care, preventive care, treatment of minor illnesses and injuries, and basic laboratory tests.

These services are available through the Agnesian Convenient Care Clinic. Primary care is regular preventive care and treatment provided by an internal medicine physician, a family medicine physician, physician assistant or a nurse practitioner. For a complete listing, visit agnesian.com/walk-in-care.

Here is just one example:

  • Upper respiratory: For many upper respiratory complaints, including a cold, sore throat or cough, you almost never need to go to the ED. Most colds are viral and no antibiotic will help. Often it just needs to run its course. If need be, seeing your regular doctor or visiting convenient care would be fine in this situation. Red flags would be a persistent fever, productive cough with colored sputum or symptoms that last more than three days. Then seek care soon. Also, children with ear infections who have a high fever and are not eating should be seen right away.

These are only guidelines, and if you are ever unclear as to whether or not make to seek medical attention call your doctor or go to the ED. Our healthcare professionals are always happy to see people here and can help you sort it out.


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