3 Reasons To Still Visit The ER During The COVID-19 Pandemic

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: August 13, 2020

As we enter the sixth month of the COVID-19 pandemic, every ‘normal’ activity has adjusted to prioritize health and safety for all. The recommended social distancing and state-wide mask mandates have both contributed to slowing the spread as well as emphasized the seriousness of the virus. As there is still much to learn about this virus that is wreaking havoc on the world, many fear venturing out for any reason, even in critical situations. A recent study shows 80% of people are concerned they will contract COVID-19 if they visit a doctor for a non-COVID related reason. The same study reveals that 29% of adults have actively delayed seeking medical care due to concerns about exposure to COVID-19 in an emergency room (ER). But there are still several reasons to seek emergency medical attention during the pandemic.
  1. ER’s provide swift diagnosis and treatment.
    Particularly if faced with a life-threatening emergency, calling 911 and visiting an emergency care facility can be the difference between life and death. Emergency rooms are designed to quickly evaluate incoming patients. Through the use of a triage system, case severity is determined, and the patient is prioritized according to how quickly their symptoms warrant seeing a doctor, providing the appropriate care necessary for the issue.
  2. Critical issues require critical care.
    Emergency room doctors are trained to deal with emergency cases. Animal bites, broken bones, chest pain, difficulty breathing, uncontrollable fever, loss of consciousness, loss or blurred vision, head injuries, bleeding, burns, severe abdominal pain, and strokes are some critical issues that may warrant an emergency room visit. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease and stroke are the top two killers worldwide each year, with heart attacks accounting for 1 out of every 4 deaths in the U.S. pre-COVID-19. In terms of emergency care, mere minutes can be the difference between life and death, making a 911 call critical when it comes to potential stroke or heart attack symptoms.
  3. Hospitals have updated procedures to protect patients and staff.
    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals have optimized safety measures and protocols to protect patients and staff alike. In addition to more vigorous cleaning procedures, many emergency room facilities have cut back the number of workers coming in contact with potentially infected patients. Some facilities are also evaluating patients before entering the building, diverting potential COVID-19 patients to a different area. Other facilities have installed negative pressure rooms for COVID patients which prevents the air inside of the hospital room from escaping into the hallways or corridors. In certain hospitals, elevators are dedicated exclusively to COVID patients and non-COVID patients, or override technology is installed to shut down the call button when a COVID patient is being transported.

Never hesitate to use emergency services when symptoms indicate the need. For non-emergent issues, telehealth can be a great option as seeing a virtual clinician both encourages social distancing as well as addresses routine medical issues. Throughout the pandemic, it is more important than ever to support your health, and whether critical or not, rest assured there is a safe option for every situation.

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of its publication. However, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-evolving. We are working to keep our stories up-to-date as changes occur, but we also encourage everyone to check news and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and their local authorities.