Knowing when you should come to the ER for a COVID-19 test is essential. The frequency of ER visits is spiking as we break national records of new cases of the virus. That makes testing accessibility critical. Yes, COVID-19 tests are available at primary care and urgent care facilities; however, a doctor’s office is going to require an appointment. Urgent care facilities may offer only one type of COVID-19 testing and most do not do on site lab work. A test sample is collected and in 24-48 hours, sometimes longer, you may have lab results back from the clinic. So, when should you come to the ER for a COVID-19 test? It depends.
As we are witnessing another wave of pandemic, the number of visits to emergency rooms have jumped over by 15% since October compared to previous months. As per the data analyzed by the government, 50% more people are going directly to an ER. (Mayo Clinic, 2020)
COVID-19 Emergency Care
Many people who have COVID-19 experience mild symptoms which can be treated at home by isolating and observing safety precautions suggested by the CDC. However, some people, particularly those who have underlying conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, respiratory or cardiac conditions, may experience more serious symptoms that require treatment at a hospital. Age is also a big factor in determining if you need a definitive COVID-19 diagnosis. The elderly are most vulnerable to the virus and complications.
If you think you may have the virus and have not been tested, some conditions require a diagnosis so the patient can be quickly and properly treated and if necessary, be kept for observation or stabilizing emergency treatment. If you experience these symptoms in yourself or are present in a loved one or family member, it is time to make a hospital emergency room visit.
Trouble breathing in and out
If you’re short of breath even while resting, it’s time to seek an ER evaluation to prevent the situation from getting worse. If your breathing is labored from routine activities like walking from one room to another, or you can’t recover your breath after going up the stairs, you should seek immediate medical attention. (Harward, 2020)
Consistent pain or pressure in the chest
People with COVID-19 can experience what’s called substernal chest pain or aching under their breastbone which causes a high level of discomfort.
Confusion, unable to be awakened or dizziness
Marked confusion, extreme sleepiness, or inability to wake are also considered emergency symptoms that can occur with reduced circulating oxygen in the body and require immediate attention. (Hopkins, 2020)
Lips or face dryness along with turning blue
- If your face or lips are turning blue, that’s a sign of hypoxia or a lack of adequate oxygen which is one of the most noticeable of virus symptoms.
Head to the ER for Testing and Diagnosis
Emergency room facilities do not require an appointment for medical emergencies.
The CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)–PCR Diagnostic Panel detects the SARS-CoV-2 virus in upper and lower respiratory specimens. It is designed to be used with an existing RT-PCR testing instrument commonly used to test for seasonal influenza virus.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for this test on February 4, 2020. (CDC 2020)
It’s advisable to find out if the ER you are visiting has PCR equipment and an onsite lab. Upon arrival, alert the emergency room that you have or may have COVID-19 before going in. If you’re traveling to the hospital by ambulance, inform the medics beforehand. This will give the emergency room staff time to prepare and provide you specific instructions to follow when you arrive, such as wearing a cloth face mask and avoiding close contact with anyone else in the emergency room.
In our facility, Board Certified ER Physicians and ER Nurses will evaluate your symptoms, and they may perform blood tests and X-rays to evaluate whether you require a COVID-19 test. They will then perform a PCR test if necessary and determine whether you have tested positive for the virus and if hospital admittance is required.
Waiting Too Long
If you have virus symptoms, especially with complicating medical conditions, it is best to err on the side of caution. Don’t wait to be seen. Our clean, safe ER is equipped to handle any emergency and will not make you wait long hours or days for results. We have onsite labs and PCR equipment to diagnose COVID-19 quickly with accurate, gold standard results. Our process is about the wellbeing of our patients. Our staff, nurses and doctors are compassionate and ready to take on each patient as a VIP. We understand the meaning of a COVID-19 diagnosis and are here to support you and your family with excellent, specialized ER care.
“Rapid COVID-19 Testing Info.” Elite Medical Center, 23 Nov. 2020, elitelv.com/covid-19-information/covid-19-testing-info/
CDC’s Diagnostic Test for COVID-19 Only and Supplies. (2020, December 9) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/virus-requests.html
“Getting Safe Emergency Care during COVID-19.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 16 July 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-emergency-care-during-covid-19/art-20487829
Ercolano, Alexa. “Hospital and Emergency Care During COVID-19: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Updates.” Hospital and Emergency Care During COVID-19 | Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Updates, Http://Www.wikidata.org/Entity/Q50363516, 15 May 2020, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/coronavirus/hospital-care.html
“Coronavirus Update From City of Las Vegas.” City of Las Vegas, www.lasvegasnevada.gov/News/Blog/Detail/corona-virus-update