17 Things You Shouldn’t Do During a Medical Emergence (You’ll Only Make It Worse)

Written By Jill Taylor

Your first instinct during a medical emergency is to do what you can to help, but often, that can be a lot worse than doing nothing at all. There are certain things you shouldn’t do that many people don’t realize. Here are 17 things to avoid that could make the situation worse.

Fail to Stay Calm

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It can be very easy to panic during an emergency, but the best thing you can do – for both yourself and an injured person – is to remain calm. Keeping your composure means you can think more clearly about what needs to be done, and it also helps not to panic the person in need.

Move an Injured Person

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One thing you should never do in a medical emergency is move an injured person, as neck or back injuries are difficult to spot and could exacerbate the situation. The only time you should move an injured person is if they are in life-threatening danger, advises St John Ambulance.

Delay Calling for Help

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Even if an injured person seems fine, you should never delay calling for professional help in a medical emergency, as they will still need to be checked out. Waiting too long could result in complications. You should always phone straight away for guidance while you wait for an ambulance.

Give the Person Food or Drink

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Another thing never to do during an emergency is to give the person food or drink, even if they ask for it. This could cause choking or other complications depending on the injury, especially if they’re slipping in and out of consciousness.

Give Them Medications

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You should also never give medications or even simple painkillers to an injured person without knowing the root cause of the injury. There’s the risk of allergic reactions with any new form of medication, even if you think you’re doing the right thing.

Ignore Your Personal Safety

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Additionally, you shouldn’t neglect your own personal safety during a medical emergency. People can often forget this as their attention is solely focused on helping the injured. You could risk your own safety by trying to help them, especially in a dangerous environment.

Attempt a Medical Procedure

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Some people may even try attempting a medical procedure instead of calling an ambulance, which is something you should never do. Even if you’ve had medical training in the past, you shouldn’t attempt anything complex if it’s not something you’re qualified to administer.

Ignore Symptoms of Shock

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Shock can be an additional side effect of an injury or medical emergency, so never neglect its symptoms. According to the NHS, signs of shock include pale, clammy skin, rapid breathing, and sweating, and they require immediate attention.

Use Ice on Burns

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You should also never apply ice directly to burn injuries. Although running a minor burn under cold water can usually be helpful, it’s entirely different to apply ice directly to the skin, as this could damage the skin tissue and cause further injury. Aim to cover the burn with a clean dressing.

Crowd the Scene

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If an emergency happens in a public place, another thing you should never do is draw attention or crowd the scene. You might naturally want to shout for the help of others nearby, but drawing a crowd around the injured person can block the way for emergency responders.

Administer Alcohol

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If the injured person is still lucid, don’t be tempted to give them alcohol to calm their nerves as you wait for help to arrive, even if they ask for a drink. Apart from the fact you shouldn’t administer any liquids anyway, alcohol can interfere with judgment and worsen certain conditions.

Ignore Any Allergic Reaction Symptoms

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Mayo Clinic reveals that allergy symptoms can range from minor to life-threatening anaphylaxis shock, which is why they should never be ignored. You should watch out for any swelling, hives, or breathing changes, even if these aren’t related to the initial injury.

Delay CPR if it’s Cardiac Arrest

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In most cases, you should wait for medical professionals to administer any treatment, but in the case of a cardiac arrest, one thing you should never do is delay giving CPR. Giving CPR immediately can increase the person’s chance of survival, encouraging oxygen to the brain while you wait for help to arrive.

Forget to Document Important Information

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Another important thing to never forget during a medical emergency is to document important information, such as how the accident happened, anything you’ve noticed about the injured person’s symptoms, and even the time of the incident. Information like this will greatly help medical responders.

Fail to Reassure the Injured Person

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In all the panic about calling emergency services and doing what you can to help, you may forget that the person themselves could do with a bit of reassurance! Constantly speaking to them to let them know what’s happening and asking calming questions can really help.

Neglect Proper First Aid Techniques

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First aid can really help in a medical emergency, but if you’re not sure of the correct methods, you should avoid it, as improper techniques could actually risk further harm. Common first aid mistakes include putting hot water on frozen skin and using a tourniquet to stop bleeding, says the University of Rochester.

Use Home Remedies

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One final thing you should never do during a medical emergency is try to administer a home remedy that isn’t verified. Even if you think you’re doing what’s best, some home remedies can cause bad reactions and don’t come from any dependable scientific backing.

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