When to go to the ER if you're bleeding

For some people, the sight of blood can be very frightening, even if the cause of bleeding is not life threatening. So how do you know when bleeding requires a trip to the emergency room?

The short answer is you should go to the ER if you are losing a significant amount of blood, and bleeding is not controlled with direct pressure. If you are unsure whether bleeding is serious enough to go to the ER, follow the guidelines below.

These symptoms may require emergency care

First, consider the source of the bleeding.

  • Nose: Hold direct pressure on the bridge of the nose for 10 minutes. If bleeding continues for an hour or more, go to the ER.
  • Intestinal: If you are vomiting blood or if there is blood in the stool, go to the ER.
  • Surgical: If you have recently had surgery, and the wound re-opens or starts bleeding, contact your surgeon for advice on whether or not go to the ER.
  • General: If bleeding is not controlled by direct pressure, visit the ER.

If the injury seems minor, consider visiting an urgent care facility instead.

If you are taking blood thinners, you may require emergency care

You should go to the ER if you experience bleeding while taking blood thinners. Blood thinners make it harder for your blood to clot on its own, so medical help is important.

Blood thinners are typically prescribed to help prevent heart attack or stroke. Common blood thinners include:

  • Coumadin (warfarin)
  • Eliquis (apixaban)
  • Pradaxa (dabigatran etexilate)
  • Xarelto (rivaroxaban)
  • Heparin
  • Lovenox (enoxaparin)
  • Fragmin (dalteparin)

The Medical Center of Aurora offers 3 ER locations:

All are open 24/7 and are staffed by board-certified emergency physicians and experienced nurses. Please see the map below for locations, addresses, and phone numbers.