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Tips For Emergency Room Visits And Summer Safety

Empowering Individuals Through Informed Healthcare Decision-Making

Navigating through unexpected illness or pain can be a daunting experience, especially when deciding whether to seek emergency care, wait for a doctor's appointment or opt for self-care at home. How do you know which is best? In an insightful discussion with three medical experts from Baylor Scott & White Health, we delve into the various options available to expedite your recovery process. This exploration aims to provide you with the guidance needed to make the best decision for your health and well-being

Making The Right Choice: Emergency Room vs. Primary Care Or Urgent Care

When considering whether to visit an emergency room, primary care physician or an urgent care facility, it comes down to the severity of your symptoms. Ferran Ros, DO, medical director of emergency at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - Centennial, says the emergency room is the appropriate destination for potential medical emergencies. "Sudden dizziness or numbness, chest pains, difficulty breathing, suspected broken bones or bleeding that cannot be stopped are all symptoms that should be taken seriously,” says Dr. Ros. “More mild conditions like allergies, coughs, nausea and diarrhea can usually be treated at other facilities." 

What is the Difference Between A Hospital Emergency Room And A Freestanding ER Facility?

Freestanding emergency rooms (ERs) and hospital-based ERs differ in terms of access to wraparound care and related services. Casey Cox, BSN, RN, CEN, NE-BC emergency department nurse manager, on staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - Plano, explained that freestanding ERs are unable to admit patients for extended care or provide certain specialized services like cath labs or GI labs. Consequently, patients requiring these services may face delays when they need transfers to facilities with more robust care. Stephen Blake Baker, MD, medical director of emergency medicine at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - McKinney, added that hospital-based ERs, which often offer consultant services and trauma designations, offer immediate access to specialized care and 24/7 in-house services.

What Should You Expect in the Emergency Room?

According to Nurse Manager Cox, “In the fast-paced environment of emergency departments, patients are prioritized based on the urgency of their situation and the current workload.” He stresses the importance of efficient patient care by managing wait times and the overall flow of the department. And while providing efficient care is always the goal, Dr. Baker says a patient with an acute life-threatening problem will always be seen before somebody with a less severe complaint. For this reason, Dr. Baker recommends bringing distractions like books or mobile devices with charging cords to help pass the time while awaiting a provider or test results. While it is recommended to limit the number of accompanying visitors to maintain focus on the patient, having a supportive companion can play a crucial role in offering comfort and aiding in the comprehension of treatment plans. Dr. Ros highlights the value of having an extra set of eyes and ears to support patients during their time in the emergency department. Our interviewees all agree it’s important to bring an up-to-date list of medications, health issues and surgical history to facilitate efficient communication with medical staff.

Summer Safety: Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses

When summer temperatures soar, taking precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses is crucial. "Patients need to be wary of activities during extremely high temperatures. Even normal activities that people may not consider as strenuous can be hazardous during extreme temperatures,” says Dr. Baker. He emphasizes the importance of staying out of direct sunlight, hydrating adequately and scheduling outdoor activities during cooler temperatures. Nurse Manager Cox advises against wearing clothing that hinders evaporation, as this can worsen heat-related illnesses. Instead, he says to choose breathable fabrics and loose-fitting clothing to allow sweat to evaporate and help regulate body temperature effectively. By heeding this advice, people can reduce the likelihood of heat-related health issues and have a safer experience when spending time outdoors in the summer. Dr. Ros added that if staying out of the heat is unavoidable, it’s important to recognize the signs of heat-related illness, including dizziness and elevated heart rate. If you experience these symptoms, applying ice packs to the major arteries close to the groin, under the arms, and at the back of the neck can rapidly help reduce your body's core temperature. However, if symptoms are prolonged or dehydration becomes an issue, please seek emergency care.

The Nuances of Emergency Care and Taking Proactive Steps to Safeguard Against Seasonal Hazards

With your expanded knowledge of emergency care, you are now better prepared to be proactive in the event of a medical emergency. Having regular visits with a primary care doctor can help you manage routine or chronic illnesses and be more aware of when your body is experiencing a medical emergency. Ultimately, being proactive about your health and empowered with knowledge can help you navigate your healthcare needs effectively and prioritize your well-being. For more information about emergency care and summer wellness, or to find a physician on the medical staff at a Baylor Scott & White medical center, visit or download the free MyBSWHealth app at

Physicians provide clinical services as members of the medical staff at one of Baylor Scott & White Health's subsidiary, community or affiliated medical centers and do not provide clinical services as employees or agents of those medical centers or Baylor Scott & White Health