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When to Go to the ER


If you experience a serious illness or injury, you may need emergency care. Emergency room (ER) doctors and other specialists are available to offer a range of services, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and other advanced testing options.

Our Dignity Health St. John’s doctors practice care with humankindness and listen carefully to your questions. When you need to go the ER in Ventura County, we can help.

Whether you are experiencing a heart attack, stroke, or a life-threatening injury, our emergency care doctors stand ready to help you heal.

Seeking Medical Care in the ER at Dignity Health St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital

It might be confusing to know when to go to the ER for abdominal pain, or when to go to the ER for chest pain. 

Examples of conditions that require an ER visit are:

  • Any injury that could result in disability or death, such as a spinal cord injury or a traumatic brain injury
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Broken bones
  • Actual or suspected poisoning

When to Call 911

Call 911 or go to the nearest ER if you have any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Sudden weakness on one side of your body
  • Seizures
  • Back or neck injury with changes in sensation in your arms or legs or an inability to move them
  • Difficulty speaking or suddenly being unable to speak
  • Pain or swelling in an arm or leg following an impact injury, such as a fall
  • Signs of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, including lip or tongue swelling

What to Expect in an ER

When you arrive in the ER, you will likely first meet with a triage nurse, who will evaluate the urgency of your condition.

Your Dignity Health St. John’s doctors and nurses who specialize in emergency care will examine you again in more detail to determine the most effective care for your condition. To help your health care providers understand your condition, you may have urine tests, blood tests, or imaging tests, such as X-rays.

Depending on your condition, your trusted Dignity Health St. John’s doctor may consult with other specialists to create a personalized treatment plan just for you. If you are sent home from the ER, the emergency care team will provide home with care instructions and, possibly, prescriptions for medications. You may need to make a follow-up appointment with your primary care doctor or a specialist.

In some cases, your doctor may determine that you should be admitted to the hospital for treatment or monitoring. It’s possible that treatment may include emergency surgery.