Know When to Go to the ER

Use this simple chart to determine whether or not you need to visit the emergency room

About 20 percent of trips to the ER are unneccessary. To recognize a true emergency (and avoid needless expense), remember this acronym: ABCDE.

Head to the ER STAT (or dial 911) if you have any of these...








Disability or dehydration


Exposure to an environmental hazard

Choking (also do the Heimlich maneuver or CPR if needed)Rapid or slowed intake of air, wheezing, skin has a blue tingeLoss of consciousness, bleeding, agitation, lifelessnessInjury or inability to walk or talk, inability to keep down food or liquidsVarious (causes can include heat exhaustion, hypothermia or poisoning)

* GET HELP FAST. Urgent-care centers treat non-threatening conditions and often have shorter wait times than ERs. Locate one at

Sources: Neal Shipley, MD, co-founder of Urgent Care Manhattan in New York City; and Leigh Vinocur, MD, spokeswoman for the American College of Emergency Physicians