Doctor vs. ER

Doctor vs. ER

Ask yourself: is it a true emergency?

Senior Healthcare Lecture #2

By Martha M. Rodriguez, M.D.,

Many times we get sick or in pain, and that frightens us. For many people, that fear leads them to seek help by going to the emergency room. However, it is crucial to realize the real urgency lies in your ability to trust your healthcare provider with all non-life-threatening emergencies.

Going to the hospital is very risky. There you are exposed to illness, doctors, and nurses you don’t know, repeated screenings or health assessments, and more. Hospitals are necessary and critical for people whose lives are at risk. However, if your life isn’t at risk, your odds are better spent seeing your primary care physician. With your doctor, you find trust, reliability, and someone who knows you by name and your story.

There are two most common reasons people go to the ER unnecessarily; the flu and a urinary tract infection.

The Flu:

This common viral infection can lead to severe symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, minor fever, sore throat, trouble sleeping, and body aches. When facing these symptoms, it is essential to recognize it early and consult your doctor. If caught within the first 48 hours, influenza can be treated effectively with antiviral medications.

The flu can be very dangerous in the elderly because they have weakened bodies and are at a higher risk of sickness and even injury. If, after consulting your doctor, your symptoms worsen, then it may be vital that you go to the hospital to be treated and monitored.

Remember, the most effective way of dealing with the flu is by preventing it. The flu shot should be taken at the start of peak season, October. If you are elderly, make sure you are getting the proper dosage by consulting your doctor or pharmacists.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI):

UTIs are infections most commonly found in women. They usually occur in the bladder or urethra. More severe infections can involve the kidney. A bladder infection may cause pelvic pain, increased urge to urinate, pain with urination, and blood in the urine. A kidney infection may cause back pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever. 

Elderly women face an increased chance of getting a UTI because, as the body ages, menopause causes the vaginal area to dry. Dryness allows bacteria to grow faster and flush out slower. 

A UTI is common and easily treated in most cases. UTIs are commonly treated with antibiotics. However, MMR Healthcare suggests consulting with your doctor to see if that is the best treatment for you. 

A preventative measure to take is to apply Aquaphor in the vaginal region at least once a day. Doing this provides favorable moisture while acting as a barrier against harmful bacteria. 

We understand the difficulty in knowing when it is the right or wrong time to go to the emergency room. Every person’s case is different. There are no guidelines that will fit every single person. However, for most people, some basic does and don’ts should be followed. Bellow, you can find a list of when you should visit your doctor or when you should go to the ER.

When to go to the ER:

  • Wheezing, Shortness of Breath, or difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Displaced or open wound fractures
  • Fainting
  • Sudden numbness or weakness
  • Slurred Speech
  • Bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • Choking
  • Head injury with passing out, fainting, or confusion
  • Injury to neck or spine, mainly if there is a loss of feeling or inability to move
  • Severe burn
  • Seizures

When to call your Physician’s office or come to our Walk-in Clinic in Boynton Beach:

  • Common illnesses; colds, the flu, earaches, sore throats, migraines, low-grade fevers, rashes without fever
  • Minor injuries; sprains, back pain, minor cuts and burns, minor broken bones, or minor eye injuries (eye redness, discharge or itchiness)
  • STDs- Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Skin Abscesses
  • Animal bites
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Urinary Tract Infections

We do not want you to take a chance if you believe your symptoms are too severe. This is a brief list. It does not include every symptom you might be experiencing. If you aren’t sure what to do, call us first. If you think it may be life-threatening, go to the ER or call 911.

Remember, no matter where you go, be prepared. Always have the most critical information on you at all times, such as your medication list, allergy list, your most recent EKG, and a list of people to contact in case of an emergency.