We know it’s not easy to think quickly and clearly in a medical emergency. That’s why we’ve created a checklist to help you prepare.
If you suspect a medical problem is critical or life-threatening, call 911 immediately. If you’re the person who is in need of emergency care, get someone to drive you or call an ambulance — don’t attempt to drive yourself to the hospital.
Is This an Emergency?
The following are examples of medical emergencies:
- Bleeding that won’t stop
- Chest pain
- Coughing up or vomiting blood
- Deep wound
- Difficulty breathing
- Drooping or numbness on one side of your face or body
- Head, neck or spine injury
- Injury from a car accident or smoke inhalation
- Loss of consciousness
- Near drowning
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea that won’t stop
- Sudden dizziness, weakness or change in vision
- Sudden, severe pain anywhere in the body
- Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
- Swallowing a poisonous substance
- Unexplained confusion or unusual behavior
- Upper abdominal pain or pressure
If you’re unsure whether or not you’re experiencing a medical emergency, it’s better to play it safe — seek medical care.
If It’s Not an Emergency
If you’re fairly certain that what you are experiencing isn’t an emergency, we recommend that you:
- Call your doctor’s office — most have a number to call for after-hours services.
- Call a nurse line for advice. The nurse can help you decide whether you should get help now or if it’s safe to wait.
- Go to a walk-in, urgent care clinic.
- Go to the emergency department if you feel that your problem can’t wait until your doctor’s office or local walk-in clinic opens.
- Use the “Search” feature on this website to find information about your problem, including when to call a doctor and if there are any home treatments you can try.