What to Do in an Emergency Health Situation - VA North Texas Health Care System
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What to Do in an Emergency Health Situation

Emergency waiting room
Friday, November 16, 2012

Emergencies can occur anytime day or night. Sometimes you're faced with a dilemma whether to go to Dallas VA emergency room or not. Don't let the drive time or the thought of long ER wait times be a factor in your decision of whether or not to go. Also, it is never a good idea to diagnose or treat yourself for an emergency health situation. So, what do you do? Below are lists of emergency and non-emergency symptoms to help you make the right choice.

Keep in mind, this is not a complete list of symptoms for why you should or should not go to the ER.  When in doubt, seek the advice of your health care provider.

Emergency symptoms

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness in limbs
  • Severe headache
  • Major pain anywhere in or on the body
  • Minor trauma including wounds, fractures and lacerations
  • Falls that result in unconsciousness or feelings of drowsiness
  • Suicidal thoughts or strong feelings that you may harm yourself or others

If you are a Veteran or know one who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the Veterans Crisis line to talk to someone immediately. 1-800-273-8255 Press 1


Non-emergency symptoms
  • Cold/Flu-like symptoms including runny nose, sneezing and coughing
  • Minor cutes, scrapes and small burns
  • Mild headache, stomach ache or other pain in the body related to arthritis, osteoporosis or another chronic condition

Here are some things you can do for non-emergent health situations.

  1. Call our Tele-Nurse Triage Line.
    This program is effective for providing fast medical advice so you can make an informed decision about your symptoms. Your call can determine if a trip to the ER is necessary or if your condition can be addressed during your next scheduled appointment. The number is 1-800-677-8289.
  2. Come to a walk-in clinic.
    If you can't wait until your next clinic appointment with your provider, you can go to a walk-in clinic. There are walk-in clinics at all of our locations in Dallas, Bonham, Fort Worth, Tyler and the community-based outpatient clinics.
  3. Use My HealtheVet.
    Sign up for My HealtheVet to do a number of things including communicate with your doctor with secure messaging. This feature allows you to send messages to your doctor and receive a response in less than 24 hours. The My HealtheVet Coordinator for VA North Texas is located at Dallas VA Medical Center. The main office number is 214-857-1721.
  4. Use Telehealth. 
    Sign up for Telehealth to take advantage of several key components including clinical video technology (CVT). CVT allows veterans and doctors to communicate via clinical video teleconference, much like a webcam on a computer would work. Veterans can also request a "health buddy," which helps nurses keep track of vital signs. One of the best things about Telehealth is it can all be done from the Veteran's home.

In emergency situations, the best thing to do is call 911 if you cannot get yourself to the ER safely.

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