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QUORA RESPONSE: When is it appropriate to call 911 instead of driving to the emergency room?

🥰Hello, Chest pain, shortness of breath, uncontrolled heavy or prolonged bleeding, new one set numbness, tingling, weakness, or alteration/ changes in speech. New onset changes in vision or extreme headache/migraine can also be a reason to call 911. These things can be a sign and symptom of high blood pressure, and or the quiet before the storm so to speak. Severe pain can also be a reason to call the ambulance. A person in severe pain may find it difficult to obey the traffic laws, or pay attention and drive safely. The other reason severe pain may be a reason to call 911 is because it could be an indicator of something greater. any situation that you feel you may need treatment urgently prior to arrival to the emergency room is an indicator for you to call 911. For example, if blood pressure is extremely low and a person is experiencing dizziness or weakness, it can be dangerous to sit them up and to have them ambulate (walk). Perhaps, a person has dehydration, which can cause weakness or low blood pressure, or the person is taking a medication that they are extremely sensitive to that has caused low blood pressure that individual would benefit from IV access and fluids prior to arrival.

It is important to be aware that chest pain and abdominal discomfort can all be heart related. I’m sure you’ve heard stories or know individuals that have gone to the hospital thinking they were having an abdominal issue with nausea and vomiting, come to find out they are having an issue with their heart. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is (AAA or Triple A) an extremely serious condition in many cases, the feeling of abdominal pain or a pulse in the abdomen can be an indicator of something cardiac/heart related.


Many individuals call 911 thinking they will bypass the wait in the ER or will make false claims of chest pain to be seen sooner. As a healthcare provider, I strongly discouraged this, it will not get you treated any faster you will be placed in the lobby once your are triaged with no indicator of any other reason to begin treatment immediately. Furthermore, it gets in the way of taking care of people that have true life-threatening conditions, and delays their service. Then you have other individuals that drive themselves and have half an arm hanging on by a thread because they don’t want to have the ambulance bill😥. I strongly suggest not to worry about the ambulance bill if the situation could be life or death. I understand it is difficult for individuals to know at times, but if it is an emergency to you and you feel you need to go to the emergency room don’t second-guess taking an ambulance.

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