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Medical Emergencies

General information

San Mateo Medical Center provides emergency care for people of all ages 24 hours a day, every day. Your comfort and well-being are our top priority. Our medical team is trained to provide fast, excellent care for a range of injuries and illnesses.

We are taking extra steps to keep our patients safe when seeking emergency care.

If you need emergency care, you will be screened when you enter the Emergency Room. If you have respiratory symptoms, you will be given a mask to wear. If you have respiratory symptoms and meet the screening criteria for COVID-19, you will be given a mask and asked to wait in a separate area while you wait for care.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing is not available on request. Just like testing for other infectious diseases, such as the flu, the first step is a full evaluation by your healthcare provider.

Wait Times

When you arrive, you will be asked questions to determine the severity of your condition. People with life-threatening injuries and illnesses will receive medical treatment more quickly than those with less serious conditions. If your condition doesn’t require immediate care, you may have a longer wait. Your health and comfort are important to us and our goal is to keep you informed throughout the process.

Check our Emergency Department Wait Time Calculator for an estimated wait time (Times varies depending on type of injury or illness).

When to Seek Emergency Care

Most people know to get emergency care for chest pain or a broken bone, but many other injuries or illness also call for immediate medical attention. The following are examples of medical emergencies:

  • Bleeding that won’t stop
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Deep wound
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drooping or numbness on one side of your face or body
  • Head, neck or spine injury
  • Injury from a car accident or smoke inhalation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Near drowning
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea that won’t stop
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness or change in vision
  • Sudden, severe pain anywhere in the body
  • Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
  • Swallowing a poisonous substance
  • Unexplained confusion or unusual behavior
  • Upper abdominal pain or pressure

If you’re unsure whether or not you’re experiencing a medical emergency, it’s better to be safe and seek medical care.