Tips For Safer ER Visits

The COVID-19 pandemic requires people to maintain social (or physical) distance from others  as well as minimize unnecessary trips outside of the house. These common sense precautions can go a long way to keeping everyone safe. However, in some cases, fear of contracting COVID-19 is causing people to postpone necessary medical procedures or even avoid visits to hospital emergency rooms at times when they really should be evaluated for a medical emergency. You may be asking yourself, is it safe to visit the ER during the COVID-19 pandemic? Medical experts say “yes”. Here are some tips and advice for safer ER visits.

Hospitals are Taking Precautions 

Businesses in all industries are taking precautions against the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19, and hospitals are no exception. From bottom to top, hospitals have undergone an overhaul in processes and procedures to prevent the spread of germs. Here are some examples of what healthcare providers are doing to keep patients and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Ambulances are decontaminated with methods aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.
  • Masks and temperature checks are enforced at hospital entrances.
  • Enhanced cleaning and sanitization processes are followed.
  • In general, hospitals are well-stocked with protective gear and supplies and are no longer facing PPE shortages that were common at the start of the pandemic.
  • Patients who have (or are presumed to have) COVID-19 are diverted and isolated in a dedicated part of the hospital.
  • Dedicated staff are assigned to the COVID-19 wing in order to reduce the chances of carrying the disease into other parts of the hospital.
  • Patients with non-urgent medical concerns are “seen” and treated through telemedicine instead of in person whenever possible.
  • The number of non-patient hospital visitors are generally restricted.

Don’t Avoid the ER in an Emergency

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, do not skip a visit to the emergency room. The consequences of avoiding the ER out of fear are far more dangerous than the potential risk of contracting COVID-19. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call 911 or visit your local ER immediately: 

  • Difficulty or inability to speak.
  • Drooping face.
  • Difficulty breathing or chest tightness.
  • Pain the chest or upper abdominal area.
  • Uncontrolled bleeding.
  • Uncontrolled pain.
  • Confusion or dizziness.
  • Persistent or severe vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Seizures.
  • Broken bones.
  • Head injury.
  • Uncontrolled fever.

Address Minor Conditions Outside of the Hospital

If you are experiencing a medical condition that is not life-threatening, check in with your primary physician or medical professional for advice. In many cases, you may be able to select a virtual doctor’s visit (an appointment by phone and/or video) to take care of urgent but non-emergency health issues such as:  

  • Skin rashes or irritations.
  • Muscle sprains.
  • Sinus or ear infections.
  • Minor cuts or skin wounds.
  • Sore throats, coughs or colds.
  • Minor nausea or stomach issues.

Be Part of a Healthy Community

When you’re not feeling well, it can sometimes be difficult to determine if what you are experiencing is considered a medical emergency. In these cases, always call your primary physician for advice. At the Maples of Towson, we offer a full range of on-site medical services including primary care, physical therapy, medical specialties such as cardiology and also imaging, laboratory and diagnostic services. Contact The Maples of Towson to learn more about our customized care or to schedule a tour.

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