How do you know if you should go to the emergency room?

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Author's Note: How do you know if you should go to the emergency room?

My mom was at my sister's place before Christmas one year. My sister was cooking, and Mom was folding laundry at the table in the kitchen, when suddenly she stopped talking. She was holding a towel and rubbing it, but not folding it, and staring into space. Susan called her name and tried to get her attention, but she wouldn't respond. After just a few moments, Susan called 911. "Something's wrong with my mother," she said to the operator. "Well, dear, did you do something to make her mad?" the operator asked after my sister explained our mother's symptoms. Mom was fine, and we laugh about it now, but it shows that even the most seemingly straightforward health situations can have hidden depths.

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  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "The Flu." Feb. 2013. (March 13, 2015)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Heart Attack." Nov. 15, 2014. (March 14, 2015)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Stroke." 2015. (March 14, 2015)
  • MedLine Plus. "When to Use the Emergency Room -- Adult." National Institutes of Health. Aug. 16, 2012. (March 10, 2015)
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). "When to Go to the Emergency Room." 2015. (March 14, 2015)
  • Oregon Health Authority. "2014 Mid-Year Performance Report." Jan. 14, 2015. (March 21, 2015)
  • Scripps. "Should You Go to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care?" June 2, 2012. (March 10, 2015)