HEALTH BEAT WITH DR. ALICIA ARNOLD -- Identifying an emergency

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Talk to us about some guidelines to help decide when you should seek care for a medical emergency.

Courtesy of MGN Online

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “One simple guideline to use is if you think you may be having a medical emergency, the time to seek care is right away. The symptoms that you are having is what defines the emergency, even if the final diagnosis wasn’t truly an emergency situation. It’s best to be on the safe side. Sometimes people worry that they will be embarrassed if it’s not truly an emergency, but that is better than waiting too long and making a problem worse. Time is critical in many emergencies and prompt care can save your life or improve your quality of life.”

One reason that people might delay care is because they are reluctant to be seen as overreacting to a problem. What are some others?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “People are afraid to admit that they are having a problem. They think if they ignore it, it might go away. Unfortunately for true emergencies, this can result in making the problem much more severe. People also worry about the cost of care or about the inconvenience of the situation. My husband and I were attending a wedding recently where the pastor actually had a heart attack in the middle of performing the ceremony. He was ultimately fine, thankfully, but had initially ignored the symptoms he was having because he was at a wedding.”

Let’s talk about some common symptoms that cause people to come to the ER.

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “Common ones include chest pain, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain or pressure, problems with vision or speaking, confusion, suicidal thoughts, severe bleeding or unusual severe pain. We don’t have enough time to cover all common emergencies, but first aid courses are good ways to learn more about emergencies and how to help others.”

How about the question of whether you should drive yourself or call an ambulance?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “If the injury is severe or you think it may worsen, it is often best to take an ambulance, because emergency personnel can start helping the patient on the way to the hospital. Other things to think about include whether moving the injured person yourself could make their injury worse and also think about whether traveling the distance to the hospital or navigating traffic would be better with an ambulance. If you aren’t sure, one possibility is to call 911 and ask for advice.”

If you have to call 911 for help, any suggestions to help make the experience less stressful?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “Try to speak clearly and calmly. Give all information and don’t hang up until told to do so in case more information is needed. Try to give as much location information as possible, for example where in the house the person is located.”

If you are waiting for emergency services to arrive, any tips of other things to do?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “If easily accessible, legal information like health care power of attorney and advanced directives are good to bring along. Also, if it’s nighttime, try to make sure the house and property are well lit so the ambulance and emergency personnel can more easily locate you.”



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