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Healthwise: Medical Care Decisions

May 23, 2012

From chest pains to possible broken bones to when you’re hurting or not feeling well, you often have to make a decision about your medical care.

Your options are to call 911, go to the Emergency Department, or wait to see your family doctor. When making that decision, emergency doctors at Martha Jefferson Hospital say it all depends on your condition.

“So basically if someone has an acute change in their condition, they should come to the Emergency Department. If it is something that’s been going on for a day and really is not getting worse, then usually they can talk to their doctor and they’ll advise them one way or the other also,” said Dr. LeRoy Caudill, Emergency Department Medical Director.

If you realize that you need to go to the hospital, should you be transported by ambulance, or get someone else to take you?

“If they feel like their condition is too bad for them to be able to come in themselves, then they need to go ahead and call 911. If someone else brings them in, it could be more detrimental to them at that time," said Stephen Rea, an EMS at Thomas Jefferson.

In an emergency situation, first responders say getting pre-hospital treatment could make all the difference for a patient.

“The pre-hospital treatment is very important especially when you have the chest pains because then they can come in with a possible heart attack and be treated prior to them coming to the hospital. This speeds up their treatment once they get to the hospital,” said Rea.

Although you may be nervous about a trip to the ER, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

“It’s always a good thing and a big help for us if you know your medications ahead of time. If you have them written down, lists of your allergies, medications, the dosages, how often you take them, who your doctor is, and what kind of medical conditions you have, it could be a big help,” said Dr. Caudill.

You can’t always prevent an emergency from happening, but when it does, knowing what to do can help you get the care you need and put you on the road to recovery.

EMT's and doctors say the most common reasons for visits to the ER include: chest pain, difficulty breathing, diabetic emergencies, abdominal pain, and general sickness.


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