Your guide to ER care in Richmond, Virginia.

When you have a health problem such as back or stomach pain, it can be hard to decide whether or not you should go the emergency room.

Unsure whether you should go to the hospital or wait for your doctor’s office to open? Our nurses are available to help 24/7. Call (804) 320-3627.

The Johnston-Willis Hospital guide to coming to the ER can help you check if your symptoms are severe enough to require a trip to our emergency room in Richmond, Virginia. It can also help you understand what to expect when you get there.

Get directions to the emergency room at Johnston-Willis Hospital

Door-to-Door Directions:

Call (804) 483-5000 for directions, parking, or general information.

 

ER Symptom Checker — When should you go?

 

Trouble breathing

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

You should also visit our emergency room in Richmond, Virginia if your breathing trouble 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

Back pain

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

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

Broken bones

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)

Chest pain

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

Concussion

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

Flu

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

Side pain

Most people will experience pain in their side or abdomen at some point in their lives, and it’s usually only temporary. However, severe side pain can be an indication of something serious.

If you have severe pain, especially in your lower right stomach, side, or back or if your pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms you should seek immediate medical treatment:

  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in the urine or pain during urination or have had a recent urinary tract infection (UTI)

Severe pain lasting only a few seconds may be nothing to worry about unless it’s reoccurring. If severe pain persists for more than a few minutes you should seek medical attention regardless of other symptoms.

Some common diagnoses may include:

  • Urological issues such as a kidney infection, kidney stones or a bladder infection
  • Appendicitis
  • Ovarian cyst

Stomach pain

Abdominal pain is the most common reason that Americans visit the emergency room. Stomach pain is something almost everyone experiences from time to time and can occur for different reasons, with varying degrees of severity. So when is your stomach pain severe enough to warrant a visit to an emergency room?

Listen to your “gut.” If the pain is abnormally severe, see a doctor immediately. Seek medical attention right away if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Stomach is tender to the touch
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Unable to eat without nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in your chest, neck or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath or dizziness
  • High fever
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dark or black stool
  • Vomiting blood

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 healthcare 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. We 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 in Richmond, Virginia. (Message and data rates may apply.)