Can Driving Yourself to the ER Delay Your Treatment?
Despite knowing that a 911 dispatcher’s job is to handle emergencies, many people hesitate to call 911 when they need emergency care. Some patients mistakenly assume that driving to the hospital right away is preferable to waiting for an ambulance. Others worry about using Emergency Medical Services (EMS) if they aren’t truly sure whether they have a medical emergency. But the bottom line is that, when emergency care is needed, every second counts. Here at West Hills Hospital, our emergency care physicians strongly urge our neighbors not to hesitate to call 911.
Driving to the ER does delay life-saving interventions.
One of the most damaging myths about driving oneself to the ER is that it facilitates faster emergency care. Patients reason that when they drive themselves, they can leave right away instead of waiting for the ambulance. But in fact, patients can receive certain medical interventions as soon as the ambulance arrives. EMS personnel can bandage bleeding wounds, put on a stabilization neck collar, administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), or use a defibrillator. Patients can continue to receive medical attention in the ambulance while on the way to the hospital.
Calling 911 is better for public safety.
When a medical emergency develops, a patient’s condition can rapidly deteriorate. This means that you might think you’re able to drive yourself to the ER initially, but you might become dizzy, need to vomit, or even lose consciousness while you’re in the car. Attempting to drive in these conditions jeopardizes the safety of everyone else on the roadways.
Calling 911 activates a comprehensive emergency response system.
Another reason why driving to the ER can delay your treatment is because EMS teams are in frequent contact with staff at the hospital. After assessing your condition, the paramedic contacts the ER to advise the staff of the medical interventions you may need upon arrival. If you’re experiencing a life-threatening problem such as a heart attack or stroke, the ER team can prepare to treat you as soon as you arrive.
West Hills Hospital is the leading destination for patients with medical emergencies in the West Hills area. With our world-renowned Grossman Burn Center, Accredited Chest Pain Center, and Approved Stroke Center, our state-of-the-art hospital is fully equipped to save lives and improve outcomes for patients with all sorts of medical problems. A registered nurse is available at (818) 676-4321 to answer questions of a non-emergent nature.