Photography: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels
The following article was written by Amelia Ang, Honeycombers, in partnership with StarMed Specialist Centre.
Accidents can happen at any time – do you know what to do in an urgent medical situation? Keep reading for expert tips from a doctor!
Better safe than sorry: knowing what to do when someone needs immediate medical attention can make a difference between life and death. But how do you know if it’s a true emergency? We sought expert advice from Dr Sanjeev Shanker, a Specialist Emergency Physician at StarMed Specialist Centre on how to distinguish emergencies from situations that are urgent but non-life threatening.
What’s the difference between an emergency and an urgent care situation?
Emergencies are conditions that are either life or limb threatening, Dr Sanjeev says. We’re talking about heart attacks, strokes, seizures, amputations and internal bleeding. These require immediate attention to prevent death or loss of a body part, so seek medical help as soon as possible.
On the other hand, situations that warrant urgent care are often distressing, but the person’s life would not be in danger. Common situations include fractures, dislocations, giddiness, vomiting and diarrhoea (food poisoning), asthma attacks, allergic reactions, mild burns and more. Most of such patients can be treated and discharged within the same visit or after an overnight stay in a short-stay ward.
How does one provide urgent care?
For urgent but mild situations, you may be able to help your loved one before seeing a doctor. For wounds, clean the wound thoroughly with water and apply pressure to the area with gauze, cloth, or tissue if it’s bleeding. Then, proceed to see a doctor for assessment and dressing.
For muscle and joint injuries, apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel over the area of pain for 20 minutes and elevate the injured area. If you’re worried about possible fractures or dislocation, see a doctor at the StarMed Urgent Care Centre for assessment and x-rays.
If someone is experiencing giddiness, get them to sit down and crucially check for signs of a stroke. These include severe headaches, difficulty speaking, facial drooping, as well as weakness in the arms and legs. If these signs are present, it’s an emergency and you should head to the A&E as soon as possible. If you do not suspect a stroke, you may take the person to a regular doctor after some rest.
Allergic reactions require urgent medical attention if there is tongue swelling or breathlessness – proceed to the A&E if that happens. Otherwise, consider heading to StarMed’s Urgent Care Centre for anti-allergy treatment.
Accidental spills may result in mild burns – in such cases, run the affected areas under cool water for 20 to 30 minutes. After which, Dr Sanjeev recommends visiting the StarMed Urgent Care Centre to get your wounds properly treated and dressed.
For these and other urgent situations, make your way to StarMed Urgent Care Centre for assessment, diagnosis and treatment for children, adults and the elderly. When a visit to the A&E is not necessary, this is the ideal alternative to busy A&E departments and will get you the urgent medical attention needed. Want to find out more? Visit StarMed for more information.