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Wear The Gown: When to go to the ER, Urgent Care, or family doctor

ERs are overwhelmed with COVID patients right now

SAN ANTONIO — Right now emergency rooms across south Texas are overrun with COVID patients and those with other emergencies. 

If you think you have something that requires a high likelihood of requiring admission or advanced testing, that's when you should go to the ER. But when should you consider going to your doctor or urgent care?

"Follow ups for a chronic medical problem or, just a simple X-ray or a throat swab or a covid swab without any significant symptoms could be seen in any of the walking clinics or family doctor offices," said Dr. Ralph Riviello who is the Chief of Emergency Medicine with University Health. 

Dr. Riviello says noticing the appearance of a sick individual should be a huge factor in determining where they go. Dr. Riviello told us, "I think, look, is the big word there. So I would always think, how does a person look?"  

Other questions to consider...How do they look to themselves? How do they look to their family and friends? Are they very sick looking or pale? And are they profusely sweating or in a lot of distress? 

Dr. Riviello added, "If you're having chest pain, maybe, you know, severe headaches, any neurological disturbance, so your arm or leg is weak, you can't speak right. You can't walk correctly or hold objects. Serious complaints like stroke and heart attack, chest pain should really go to an emergency department."  

If you are unable to drive yourself to get help, that is the time to call 911. Dr. Riviello added, "Concerns for heart attacks or chest pain, people with stroke or stroke like symptoms, anybody who can't walk or get themselves with a friend or a family member to the emergency department probably better served in in the emergency department by calling 911." 

Dr. Riviello also says you should check with your primary care physician to see what their office can handle or not handle, and the ability they have for same day or walk-in appointments. 

For more information about family health call 210-358-3045. You can also find the rest of Wear The Gown stories, just go to WearTheGown.com.