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How to avoid the ER during the holidays | Health

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How to avoid the ER during the holidays
How to avoid the ER during the holidays

ATLANTA -- The holidays are often is the busiest time for hospital emergency rooms. Collectively, the Piedmont Healthcare-affiliated hospitals in Atlanta, Fayetteville, Newnan, Stockbridge and Jasper saw nearly 40,000 patients last year in the emergency rooms during the holiday season.

Avoid a trip to the hospital with the following tips:

  1. Know when a visit to the ER is really necessary. Many health issues that arise during the holidays are not medical emergencies. Those that should be treated immediately include chest pain, stroke symptoms (numbness on one side of the body, face, arm or leg; trouble walking, speaking and seeing in one or both eyes), excessive, uncontrolled bleeding and difficulty breathing. Severe stomach pain that is accompanied by other symptoms such as coughing up or vomiting blood, dizziness or fainting, and vision changes should also be treated immediately in the ER.
  2. Seek treatment at urgent care or walk-in clinics when appropriate. Anything from sprained ankles and fractures to sore throats, ear infections, cuts and falls can be treated at an urgent care or walk-in clinic, which is often open later than family doctors’ offices. Familiarize yourself with the urgent care clinics in your area before an accident or health event occurs. Seeking treatment at one of these facilities for non-emergency medical issues can save you and your family significant time and money.
  3. Be proactive about your health. Seeing a family doctor regularly can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the long run and can prevent you or a loved one from ending up in the ER unnecessarily. Regular visits with a primary care physician also increase chances of early detection should a medical issue present itself. Be sure to get your cholesterol and blood pressure checked, and share any family history of medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer with your doctor. You can also take preventative measures to avoid catching a cold or the flu in the first place.
  4. Beware the common holiday mishaps. Look out for things in your home that could prove hazardous during the holidays, including open fireplaces, electrical issues, poisonous plants like mistletoe and holly berries, or areas that put guests at risk for falls. In addition to fires and falls, car accidents due to weather and drunk driving are common reasons hospital emergency rooms see more patients during the holidays.


Not only can the wait times be longer at the ER during the holidays, but many hospitals across the country are implementing screening processes to determine which patients have true medical emergencies. Those who are not emergent but wish to receive care at the ER will be required to pay a fee upfront.

Piedmont recognizes ER visits can be expensive and often frustrating for families. Use these tips to keep your family safe and healthy during the holiday season.

For more information on emergency services at Piedmont’s five campuses, visit:


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