1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

When Should You Call 911?

Medical Emergencies That Just Can't Wait for the Family Doctor


Updated May 19, 2014

Emergency medical technicians assisting patient in ambulance
Mike Powell/Stone/Getty Images

Some folks are afraid to call 911 because they are unsure whether their medical condition or complaint rises to the level of an emergency. Calling a physician for advice is a good place to start, but physicians aren't always readily available and many will end up telling patients to call 911 anyway.

There are specific conditions that should not wait for a call back from the family doctor before calling 911. These medical conditions are time sensitive -- waiting too long could have serious consequences, even death. Additionally, there are protocols in place to ease the transition from the ambulance to the hospital emergency department. A family physician will probably not have the tools necessary to treat life-threatening events in his or her office.

When experiencing one of the following conditions, call 911 immediately:

This is certainly not an exhaustive list. It's important to understand that emergencies are defined by the victim; if you feel you are having a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. First Aid
  4. Calling for Help
  5. When Should You Call 911?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.