ER or Not: When should I go to the emergency room?

With hospital filling up during the COVID surge, here's what to know about going to the ER
With hospital filling up during the COVID surge, here's what to know about going to the ER

HOUSTON – With hospitals being full, emergency room doctors are asking patients not to go to the ER just to take a COVID test.

Dr. Michael Kaplan, the medical director for CareNow Urgent Care, said of their 18 locations across the Houston area, they’re averaging 1,000 people a day.

He said not all of the patients are due to COVID, but it’s a lot more patients than normal for this time of the year.

“Our Urgent Care clinics continue to see high volumes. We continue to see a high-volume through this holiday weekend,” Kaplan said.

So what should you do if you get sick or hurt right now? Houston doctors say if you think you have COVID, you should isolate yourself from others and then assess where you should go first.

Here are types of conditions to associate with Urgent Care:

  • COVID testing
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Dehydration
  • Stitches
  • Mild to moderate illness
  • Some vaccines

Emergency care should be reserved for things like:

  • Life-threatening injuries
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Trouble breathing

Telehealth is an option for refilling prescriptions or some basic ailments. For flu and COVID, Kaplan said it’s probably best to be seen in person for an official diagnosis. You can call your nearest facility to ask about waiting in the car or checking in online to avoid the waiting room.