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Amidst COVID-19 Concerns, Emergency Physicians Urge Public Not to Delay Necessary Medical Care

WASHINGTON, D.C.—As some communities face the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in their area, others are preparing for a surge of COVID-19 related cases. Emergency physicians continue to encourage everyone to practice social distancing and stay at home when possible, but, do not delay necessary medical care, especially if you think you are having an emergency.

“Despite concerns about the coronavirus, there is no reason to delay or avoid treatment if you think you’re having a medical emergency,” said William Jaquis, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. “Waiting too long to seek medical attention could make the difference between life and death.”

In the last month, some emergency departments across the country are seeing a reduction in patient volume of more than 30 percent. In some rural or underserved communities, emergency physicians are seeing fewer patients but report that those who do come in are more seriously ill or injured, which may mean they are putting off necessary treatment.

“People continue to have accidents, heart attacks, and strokes, and the emergency department remains the best—and often only—source of lifesaving care, even during a pandemic. Emergency physicians are expertly trained to protect our patients during a pandemic, and we have protocols in place to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Jaquis.

Emergency physicians and other frontline health care workers remain committed to providing care to those in their communities, 24 hours a day—regardless of the current public health crisis. Do not hesitate to contact your doctor or call 911 if you need medical attention. It is also important to know when to go to the emergency department.

Some of the warning signs and symptoms of a medical emergency include:

  • Bleeding that will not stop

  • Breathing problems (difficulty breathing, shortness of breath)

  • Change in mental status (such as unusual behavior, confusion, difficulty arousing)

  • Chest Pain

  • Choking

  • Coughing up blood or vomiting blood

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Feeling suicidal or feeling homicidal 

  • Head or spine injury

  • Severe or persistent vomiting

  • Injury due to a serious motor vehicle accident, burns or smoke inhalation, near drowning, deep or large wound or other serious injuries

  • Sudden, severe pain anywhere in the body

  • Sudden dizziness, sudden muscle or general weakness, sudden change in vision

  • Ingestion of a poisonous substance

  • Severe abdominal pain or pressure

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is the national medical society representing emergency medicine. Through continuing education, research, public education and advocacy, ACEP advances emergency care on behalf of its 39,000 emergency physician members, and the more than 150 million Americans they treat on an annual basis. For more information, visit and

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