Skip to main content

When to Go to the Emergency Room

In general, you should go to the emergency room when the danger to health is fairly immediate, such as for:

Infants

  • High fevers (over 100 degrees 0 to 3 months, 104 degrees 3+ months)    
  • Slow or labored breathing    
  • Changes in skin color (pale, yellow, blue, splotchy).

Unless it's a clear emergency, call your baby's doctor first at his or her after-hours number. The doctor can help determine how serious the situation is. It's also a good idea to talk to your baby's doctor during regular appointments about what kinds of symptoms need emergency care. This can help ease your uncertainty in urgent situations.

Children

  • High fever accompanied by lowered/lack of responsiveness    
  • Difficulty breathing    
  • Seizures    
  • Broken bones or other potentially serious injuries    
  • Ingestion of toxic chemicals or poisons, or taking the wrong medicine or dose. (For suspected poisoning, call poison control at 800-222-1222 for immediate home treatment advice.)

Adults

  • Signs of heart attack or stroke    
  • Excessive bleeding that cannot be stopped with direct pressure    
  • Major injuries such as a head trauma    
  • Sudden and severe pain    
  • Loss of consciousness    
  • Severe allergic reactions, such as to insect bites or bee stings    
  • Persistent or severe vomiting    
  • Suspected poisoning (Call poison control for immediate home treatment advice.)    
  • Homicidal or suicidal feelings.

This is not a complete list. You should always use your best judgment and instincts to guide you during a possible urgent or emergency health situation. If you're not sure whether something is truly an emergency, make a call, or go to your nearest emergency room to be safe.

Call 911 if you have an emergency health situation and cannot drive yourself or your loved one safely and quickly to the nearest hospital emergency room. 

Top