Know when to go to the emergency room

August 05, 2019
Emergency vehicle doors and lights

When you or a loved one is sick or has had an accident, it can be a challenging time to figure out what qualifies as a medical emergency. Should you head to the nearest emergency room (ER) or schedule an appointment with your primary care physician? Medical Director of ER Services Paul C. Giasi, MD, shares some useful tips to help determine your best option.

Q: How do I know when emergency care is needed?

Assess the situation and determine if the person’s life would be in danger or if the person’s health would be harmed by not going to the ER. If “yes,” then you should call 9-1-1 and seek care immediately.

Should you determine that your best bet is to head to the ER, choose the location that’s closest to you. In addition to the Emergency Department at Doctors Hospital of Laredo, 24-hour emergency medical care can be found at Doctors Hospital ER South and the soon-to-open Doctors Hospital ER Saunders.

Q: What constitutes a true emergency?

There are several conditions considered an emergency because they require quick treatment or surgical intervention. Examples include difficulty breathing, possible stroke or heart attack, unexplained seizures, sudden intense pain, broken bones, blurred or double vision, choking and profuse bleeding. The ER is equipped to handle these health conditions, and specialists can be consulted quickly if needed.

Q: What are signs of a possible heart attack or stroke?

The most common symptoms of a possible heart attack include chest pain and shortness of breath. For possible stroke, watch for facial drooping, inability to raise both arms and slurring of speech. All of these symptoms warrant immediate medical attention in the ER.

Q: What services will be available at the new ER Saunders?

Like ER South, ER Saunders (opening later this year) will be a freestanding emergency department that offers the same quality 24-hour emergency care as Doctors Hospital. When needed, it can also serve as an access point to additional services. If you need to be hospitalized, ER Saunders will be able to provide transfer and direct admission to Doctors Hospital of Laredo or a hospital of your choice. In addition, it will be an in-network provider for many insurance plans and will also accept most insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare. Diagnostic laboratory and radiology services will also be offered at this location.

ER Saunders (opening later this year) will be located at 1300 Saunders Street (1301 E. Olive Street), with easy access to main city arteries including McPherson Road, Highway 59 and IH 35.

Learn more about the ER at Doctors Hospital >