When Should I Go To the Emergency Department?

When Should I Go To the Emergency Department

When Should I Go To the Emergency Department?

As a busy Mom of three that works from home, there are often times where I will debate heading to the emergency department because time simply is precious to me. One would argue that my health is what matters most as a means to have more time on this Earth, but the reality is, with the day to day hustle and bustle of motherhood and client work, I tend to put myself last on that priority list. Most recently I had a situation where I wasn`t sure if I should go to the emergency department, or wait to see how long it lasted and mosey to the doctor’s office, come Monday. There were some factors I took into consideration before making my firm decision that an ED trip was necessary:

• What was my level of pain? For me, I have a high pain tolerance but I was taking a ridiculous amount of ibuprofen on a regular basis to alleviate the pain I was feeling.

• Was I feeling any odd symptoms? As a hypochondriac by nature, I take longer to figure out whether the symptoms I have are based upon the worrying behind that condition, or if I actually am feeling any odd symptoms.

• What level of care would I need? While ED’s are federally mandated to accept any patient who walks in the door, I wanted to determine if I was in a position of needing major or minor care for my painful situation. If major care was needed, then a trip to the ED was necessary.

• Did I have time before school pick-ups? I am in charge of school pickups for my children, so another factor I took into consideration was the time allotted for a lengthy ED visit, while still being able to arrive on time to pick up my children.

• How far would I have to travel for ED care? Thinking about the local area and which ED I would have to drive to was taken into consideration, such as Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center that is relatively close, but still requires driving time to be considered.

While proximity is an important factor, quality care also is important. Dartmouth-Hitchcock has the only Level 1 – the highest-level designation – trauma center and the only air ambulance service (DHART). Dartmouth-Hitchcock has great results thanks to high-quality and safety standards. So when I was making the decision to visit the emergency department, I knew I would be in great hands at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. It focuses on making sure their patients have the best medical and health care experience.

And for other types of care that aren’t urgent, Dartmouth-Hitchcock provides access to more than 1,000 primary care and specialty providers in almost every area of medicine. DHMC has 30 outpatient clinic locations to include clinics in the towns of Manchester, Concord, Nashua, and Keene, NH, as well as affiliate hospitals in Lebanon and New London, NH as well as Windsor, VT.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock is a non-profit academic health system located in New Hampshire that Please visit their website for more information: www.dartmouth-hitchcock.org


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  1. I don’t go to the emergency room unless I feel like I’m on the edge of death or permanent harm. I mean that literally. I hate waiting for hours there.

  2. I hate, hate, HATE going to the emergency room. It usually takes a minimum of 5 hours before you can see a doctor. I know they do the best they can, but still. I definitely don’t go until I absolutely have to.

  3. This is a great post and so true. Making sure that you go to the emergency dept when you really need to is so important before something gets worse.

  4. Emergency rooms serve an important role and can make the difference between life and death. Sadly, as your post confirms, women put themselves last because of family and other demands… and that is very risky.
    We can’t afford to miss getting care when a situation is critical, and that is why it is important to create and collaborate with other parent friends on an advance emergency plan. Have a parent team in place, and discuss what the team will do for each other’s family in an emergency. It can save a life.

  5. I love this post! I only go to the emergency room if I believe it’s absolutely necessary for a couple of reason. First, I know I’ll have to be there for hours. Second, if I’m there for something that isn’t an emergency, I’m taking time away from people who are in real distress.

  6. For us the emergently room is for only extreme emergencies. Being sure the problem is a real emergently is so very important.

  7. Great information! I used to be amazed how much emergency rooms were over-used for little things instead of big emergencies. Great advice when to go to the emergency room.

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