Medical Emergencies: 12 Signs It’s Time to Go to the Emergency Room

How do you decide when you, a family member, or someone near you is having a medical emergency? Deciding what qualifies as an emergency is sometimes difficult as symptoms can vary greatly. We’ve compiled this helpful list of potentially life-threatening symptoms below to assist you in making this crucial decision.

Here are 12 symptoms that could signal it’s time to act fast and dial 911:

  • Signs of a heart attack (read our article about recognizing heart attack symptoms)
  • Signs of a stroke
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Burns that are open or blistering; burns that result from inhalation; burns covering a large area or on the hands, face, or feet
  • Severe injury (motor vehicle accidents or traumatic accidents)
  • Poisoning, especially when symptoms are present
  • A severe allergic reaction (such as seen in Anaphylactic reactions, which presents with swelling, itching and hives, wheezing and difficulty breathing)
  • Shock (skin may be cold and sweaty, bluish and pale, people may feel sluggish, sleepy, or confused due to low blood volume)
  • Sudden, severe pain anywhere
  • Vomiting blood or coughing up a relatively large amount of blood (more than few streaks in sputum)
  • Sudden, severe worsening of a serious chronic disorder, such as asthma or diabetes

Going to the emergency department for less serious problems may be appropriate if it is outside of your primary care provider’s normal hours and you are concerned with a medical issue.

The UP Health System – Marquette Emergency Department is managed by a full team of emergency medicine specialists, the majority of whom are board certified in Emergency Medicine. The department is also staffed with physician assistants, nurses and ancillary staff, who specialize in emergency care.

Computerized patient tracking provides patient location and test status for all emergency patients from any terminal in the Emergency Department. In critical situations physicians can place orders while at the patient’s bedside. Electronic documentation allows efficient access to critical medical information. Patients are discharged with easy to read electronic prescriptions and discharge instructions.

UP Health System – Marquette receives trauma patients from throughout the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. When trauma patients arrive, a team of physicians, nurses, and appropriate support staff are already assembled and prepared for rapid assessment and treatment.

UP Health System – Marquette has been verified as a Level II Trauma Center by the Committee on Trauma (COT) of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). This achievement recognizes the hospital’s dedication to providing optimal care for injured patients.

If you believe you are experiencing a medical emergency, always dial 911. If you need to find a primary care provider, use our online Find a Doctor tool to learn about providers across the Upper Peninsula.

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