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HealthLearning to recognize a medical emergency - and knowing how to respond to it - can literally mean the difference between life and death. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, the following are warning signs of medical emergencies:

Because emergency situations can cause people to panic, it's important to plan in advance. Think about how you would and should respond to different emergency situations. For example, make sure everyone in the family knows to call 911 in an emergency. Find out if your health plan has any procedures you need to follow. (If uncertain about insurance terms, see "Insurance Terms") Make sure the numbers for your doctor and for poison control are kept by the phone. (Read about "Poison Prevention")

First aid

It's also important to know when a seemingly simple problem requires medical attention. For example, the American Academy of Family Physicians says that a simple cut may not need more than washing, a topical anti-bacterial ointment and a bandage. However, if the edges of the cut are jagged or open, you could need stitches. Similarly, if there's a foreign object involved, such as a nail or piece of wood, there may be a risk of infection. (Read about "Microorganisms") In such cases, you'd want to consult a doctor as soon as possible.

The following first aid suggestions are from the American Medical Association:

Advance preparation can even save a life. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 1.5 million people have heart attacks every year, (Read about "Heart Attack") and learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) could be a lifesaver. The American Heart Association says CPR has saved thousands of lives. Your local hospital, local chapter of the American Red Cross or local chapter of the American Heart Association has more information on CPR classes.

Any kind of emergency situation calls for fast thinking. By knowing the facts and planning ahead, you can help yourself react to an emergency as quickly as possible.

Related Information:

    Emergency Room

    Urgent Care



    First Aid

    Head Injury

All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.

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By printing and/or reading this article, you agree that you accept all terms and conditions of use, as specified online.