Your guide to ER care.


When you have a serious health emergency or injury, seconds can matter. But how do you know if your symptoms are severe enough for a trip to the ER? It isn’t always easy to know when to go for medical care, but learning more about it could save your life in a medical emergency.

Do you know when to go to the ER?

John Randolph Medical Center's coming to the ER guide can help you check if your symptoms are severe enough that you should make the trip to our ER. It can also help you understand what to expect when you get there.

If you aren’t sure whether you should come to the ER or wait for your doctor’s office to open, you can contact a nurse, 24 hours a day, by phone at (804) 320-3627.

Door-to-Door Directions:

Call (804) 541-1600 for directions, parking, or general information.


ER Symptom Checker — When should you go?


Respiratory distress can be the result of chronic conditions like asthma or something as serious as heart failure. Signs that you should seek emergency medical treatment include:

  • Breathing stops
  • Severe shortness of breath that affects your ability to function
  • Noisy, high-pitched, and rapid wheezing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Inability to speak comfortably and sustain voice while at rest
  • Breathing difficulties when you lie flat
  • Breathlessness that doesn’t stop after 30 minutes of rest

Or if your trouble breathing is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

  • Back or arm pain
  • Pain or tightness in chest
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Swelling in your feet and ankles
  • High fever, chills, and cough

Call 911 right away if you have chest pain that is crushing or squeezing and comes with any of these symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain that spreads from the chest to the neck, jaw or arms
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fast or irregular pulse
  • Signs of shock

Signs of a heart attack may show up in other ways in women, and may include:

  • Unusual fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Discomfort in your gut
  • Discomfort in the neck, shoulder, or upper back

Back pain is a very common complaint, but it can be a sign of something serious that needs medical care right away. If your back pain is unbearable or if the pain also comes with any of the following symptoms, you should seek emergency care right away:

  • Fever
  • Sudden numbness or weakness
  • Confusion, slurred speech or inability to speak, vision loss
  • Loss of control over bladder or bowels

Without an x-ray, it can be hard to tell if a bone is broken, dislocated, or if you just have a bad sprain. Along with pain, the following symptoms may mean your bone is broken and you need medical care:

  • Bruising around the area
  • Swelling
  • Deformity or a bone bulging through the skin
  • A grating sound or a feeling caused by friction between bone and cartilage or the fractured parts of a bone (crepitus)

A concussion or any injury to the head can be very serious. If you have hit your head and have any of these symptoms, you should go to the ER:

  • Loss of consciousness, even briefly
  • Any period of amnesia, or loss of memory of the event
  • Slurred speech
  • Feeling dazed or confused
  • Worsening or severe headache
  • Vomiting
  • Seizure

The flu virus is very common and does not normally require a visit to the ER. But, for the high-risk populations listed below, it can be very serious:

  • Infants
  • People over the age of 65
  • Pregnant women
  • People with certain diseases, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • People with weakened or compromised immune systems

Signs that you should go to the ER with the flu include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Vomiting that can’t be controlled, to the point of severe loss of body fluids (dehydration)
  • If you develop complications such as pneumonia

Is it a Cold, the Flu or the Stomach Flu? Click here


Coming to our ER - What to expect:


When you first get to the ER, a triage nurse will ask you about your symptoms and take some vital signs. Once you have seen a health care professional, a registration clerk will get information for your medical record and insurance. Whether or not you have insurance or are able to pay, you will be medically screened, evaluated and stabilized.

If you have a life-threatening illness or injury, you will be first to be treated in the ER, followed by seriously ill or unstable patients. All others will be seen in the order that they come to the ER. fluWe strive to make your time in the waiting room as pleasant and brief as possible.

What to bring with you to the ER:

  • List of medicines you take or the actual medicines
  • List of known medical allergies
  • A copy of results from any recent medical tests
  • List of recent medical procedures
  • Care preferences or restrictions
  • A responsible adult or phone number for someone to contact

Before you are sent home, ask any questions you may have about your care. Make sure you keep all your paperwork, discharge instructions, and medicines if you receive any.

If you have a primary care provider listed in your medical record, we will give them a copy of your visit summary. Contact your primary care provider after you visit our emergency room. If you don’t have a primary care provider, we’re here to help you find one. Search Find A Doctor and make an appointment.

Visit our website or text ’ER’ to 32222 to find out the HCA ER wait times closest to you (message and data rates may apply).