Skip to Content

Tips for deciding whether an injury warrants an emergency room trip or if it can wait until the next day.

Most athletic injuries occur after normal business hours. This leaves parents and coaches with a hard decision:

“Should I go to an emergency room or wait until tomorrow and see an orthopaedic physician?”

I am posed with the question on a weekly basis from both parents and coaches.

Your son or daughter comes home from a game or practice and has an injury.

Do you rush off to the local ER or wait until the following day?

Let me be clear that it is ultimately a parent decision; however, I have provided some information below that may help you decide how to handle the situation.

I recommend the Emergency Room when the injury consists of:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Deep lacerations (cuts)
  • Burns
  • Spine Injuries
  • Fractures that either expose bone or the bone is displaced and has an obvious deformity
  • Head injury where the athlete has diminished cognitive awareness

There are multiple injuries that can wait until the following day to be seen in an orthopaedic office. These injuries could include:

  • Sprains of joints
  • Sprains and tears of ligaments
  • Fractures that are non-displaced
  • Injuries that produce swelling and pain

If your athlete has extreme pain, deformity, fever or excessive bleeding then an ER might be your choice. Overall, most athletic injuries are non-emergency in nature and the athlete can wait until the following day to be seen by an orthopaedic physician. We recommend icing to help relieve the swelling and the pain. If you can wait, opting for a walk-in clinic can reduce your waiting time, expedite your treatment time and save you the cost of an ER bill.

Piedmont Orthopaedic Walk-in Clinic

Piedmont_Logo_PurplePiedmont Orthopaedic Complex offers a walk-in clinic Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-noon. The clinic is staffed by experienced and certified athletic trainers that have same day access to orthopaedic physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. So when you are faced with an athletic injury, evaluate the scenario and determine which facility meets your needs. If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call at (478) 474-2114.

By Tee Spinks, LAT/ATC, OTC at Piedmont Orthopaedic Complex,

Piedmont Ortho is Mount de Sales Academy’s official sports medicine provider.