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 tinge||Loss of consciousness, bleeding, agitation, lifelessness||Injury or inability to walk or talk, inability to keep down food or liquids||Various (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 findurgentcare.com.
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