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Medical City Healthcare

Emergency care

Emergency care is the treatment of unexpected, severe medical injuries or infections. It is typically delivered in an emergency room or an ambulance. Our emergency medicine physicians stabilize your condition as quickly as possible to prepare you for the next step of care or discharge.

Emergency care services in North Texas

Whether it’s sharp stomach pain, back pain, broken bones, dizziness, high fever or chest pain, our compassionate emergency room team and board-certified emergency medicine physicians are here to help adults and children of all ages.

Trust Medical City ER experts to get you and your loved ones from assessment to treatment and back to life faster. If you or a loved one are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 immediately or visit your nearest ER.

Related specialties

Learn more about our related specialties.

ER services and treatments

From the minute you arrive at a Medical City Healthcare ER, you can expect quality care. Medical City Healthcare is a recognized industry leader in efficiency and patient experience. Our hospital ERs and full-service off-campus emergency rooms across North Texas offer:

  • Emergency services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
  • Board-certified emergency medicine physicians
  • Full-service pediatric emergency care, diagnosis and treatment for infants and children
  • Private treatment rooms
  • Specially trained staff and technicians
  • Non-opioid, safe pain medications whenever possible to reduce substance abuse
  • The support of a comprehensive healthcare network to handle any emergency

When to go to the ER

When someone you love is sick or injured, it’s sometimes hard to know what to do. Planning ahead and knowing your care choices will make it easier when you’re faced with an emergency.

Seek emergency care at your closest ER for severe, non-life-threatening injuries and illness, including:

Asthma, allergic reactions and breathing problems

Severe shortness of breath—caused by asthma, allergies, colds, flu, pneumonia, chronic health conditions such as COPD or heart disease—is a medical emergency. Call 911 if you think the condition is life-threatening. Otherwise, seek immediate treatment at the closest ER.


Broken bones and sprains

The extent of injuries from falls, sports, chores or just plain living are often hard to diagnose without an X-ray and a medical exam. Sometimes, you’ll be able to tell that a bone is obviously fractured, but most often you’ll need a medical professional for a correct diagnosis. Soft tissue injuries can pose problems, too, if left untreated.

Injuries that present with any of the following symptoms should be treated right away:

  • Intense pain or pain that lasts longer than a few days after a fall or injury
  • Swelling, bruising or bleeding
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Favoring an arm or leg
  • Unable to walk or are walking crooked


Back pain

Lower back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, with 31 million Americans suffering from this condition at any given time. With the exception of back pain caused by a traumatic injury, most back pain doesn’t require emergency treatment. However, there are times when your back pain symptoms are indicative of another illness—such as kidney stones or kidney infections—which may require a trip to the ER.

You should seek immediate treatment for back pain accompanied by:

  • High fever
  • History of infection
  • History of port or IV use
  • Problems or changes in bowel movements or urine
  • Numbness in the "saddle" area
  • Muscle weakness in extremities, such as being unable to walk or dragging a foot


Chest pain

Very rarely does a heart attack begin with dramatic symptoms. Most people having a heart attack don't realize it. That's because the vast majority of heart attacks happen slowly with just discomfort or mild pain. Patients often aren't sure what's wrong and don't get help soon enough.

Heart Attack Warning Signs

If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.

Chest discomfort: Discomfort in the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes that comes and goes. Chest discomfort is also described as uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: Symptoms can include pain or discomfort radiating to one or both arms, the back, neck, or jaw.

Shortness of breath: This may occur with or without chest discomfort.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Heartburn

Concussions and head injuries

Head injuries are a common complaint in the ER and require a quick evaluation and a CT scan to rule out a surgical emergency such as bleeding on the brain.

Signs of a serious head injury or concussion include:

  • Severe or persistent headache or neck pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Balance and coordination issues
  • Speech and memory problems
  • Blurred vision or photophobia (sensitivity to light and sound)
  • Ringing ears or trouble hearing
  • Changes in sleep patterns or moods
  • Seizures

Flu symptoms

Most people who come down with the flu will recover within one to two weeks, but some people will develop more serious illnesses. Adults 65 years old and older, pregnant women, children five years old and younger, infants and patients with certain conditions, like chronic obstructed pulmonary disease (COPD), may experience more complications from the flu than usual. These complications can sometimes result in life-threatening issues, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. If you or a loved one is experiencing severe flu symptoms, visit your nearest ER.

High fever

Fevers are a normal reaction when the body is fighting infection, however, a high fever that doesn’t go away with medication or is accompanied by other symptoms needs to be checked out. In fact, often the absolute number on the thermometer isn't as important as how the patient is acting and whether or not there are accompanying symptoms, such as severe headache or stomach pain, confusion, trouble breathing, stiff neck or vomiting and diarrhea.

If there are no other symptoms, here’s when to seek medical help for a high fever:

  • Infants under 3 months old–100.4ºF or higher
  • Children 3 months to 3 years old–102.2ºF or higher
  • Children 3 to 17 years old–102ºF for two or more days
  • Adults 18 years old and older–102ºF for more than three days or 104ºF or higher


Stomach pain

Stomach pain is one of the leading reasons both adults and children go to the ER. Though abdominal pain can sometimes be minor and temporary, some instances of stomach pain may be symptoms of serious medical conditions. Gastrointestinal care is available at our ERs. You should seek immediate care for stomach pain that is:

  • Accompanied by a high fever, vomiting or other serious or unusual symptoms
  • Severe or lasting more than 24 hours
  • Localized to one specific area
    • Right lower quadrant could indicate appendicitis
    • Right upper quadrant could indicate cholecystitis or a gallbladder infection
    • Left lower quadrant could indicate diverticulitis or a colon infection

The questions below were developed by an ER doctor for her friends and family and can be used to help decide if you should go to the ER with stomach pain.

  • Severity: Does it hurt so badly that it’s hard or impossible to concentrate or perform normal activities?
  • Vomiting: While vomiting doesn’t automatically signal a trip to the ER, if you’re unable to keep down fluids or are vomiting up blood, it’s time to go.
  • Output: Are your stools a different color than normal, such as bloody or dark black (also potentially a sign of bleeding) or are you having diarrhea? Like vomiting, diarrhea isn’t necessarily serious unless it causes dehydration. If you’re unable to keep down liquids and you’re having excessive diarrhea, you may need to have fluids administered. What about changes to your urine? Are you going more or less than normal? Is it bloody or another unusual color?
  • Other symptoms: Are you having difficulty breathing? Chest pain? Does your abdominal pain spread directly to your back?
  • Health history: Have you recently suffered an abdominal injury or had abdominal surgery? Are you pregnant or have you recently given birth? Are you on chemotherapy or do you have any other conditions that could compromise your immune system?


Stroke symptoms

Receiving immediate stroke care is imperative for the best outcomes possible. It is not always clear if someone is experiencing symptoms of a stroke.

If you're unsure, remember to think F.A.S.T.:

  • F = Face drooping
  • A = Arm weakness
  • S = Speech difficulty
  • T = Time to call 911

Pediatric emergency care

In addition to advanced, comprehensive adult emergency care, Medical City Healthcare offers full-service emergency care, diagnosis and treatment for infants and children of all ages. It’s like having the pediatric emergency care of Medical City Children’s Hospital in your neighborhood—so you don’t have to go to a children’s hospital to find expert pediatric ER care close to home. Specially trained physicians provide the highest quality healthcare according to guidelines for care set by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Emergency Nurses Association.

In accordance with the National Pediatric Readiness Project, Medical City Healthcare ERs have been equipped to ensure they meet essential guidelines and have resources in place to provide a safe and family-centered emergency experience, including:

  • 24/7/365 emergency care
  • Registered, emergency-trained nurses supported by pediatric child-life specialists
  • Pediatric-friendly rooms and waiting area
  • Pediatric pain management techniques
  • Pediatric computerized drug dosing for safety
  • 24/7 access to Medical City Children’s Hospital, including:
    • Pediatric specialists
    • Pediatric and neonatal children’s specialty transport team
    • Seamless admission to Medical City Children’s Hospital if inpatient care is required

Making the most of your ER visit

Some ways to maximize the time you spend in the ER include:

  • Be in the right place. Make sure the ER is the right care choice for your symptoms. There are conditions best treated at your doctor's office or at an urgent care center—but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
  • Be prepared. Keep a list of all your medications on your phone or somewhere easily accessible.
  • Be honest and thorough. You can impede or delay a proper diagnosis and treatment by giving inaccurate or incomplete information.
  • Be patient and polite, but don’t be afraid to speak up. If you think you’ve been waiting too long, have been forgotten or are just unsure of what’s going on, don’t wait to say something.

When to call 911 instead of driving to the ER

Why call 911? No matter how fast you think you can drive to the closest ER, first-responders can probably get to you faster. They also have the advantage of lights and sirens to cut through traffic and start lifesaving treatment right away. Calling 911 also ensures you are routed to the appropriate hospital for effective treatment, like a trauma center or certified stroke center.

When you or a loved one is experiencing life-threatening symptoms that may result in death or disability without immediate care, call 911. For moderate and manageable symptoms, you can have someone drive you to the ER.


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