COVID-19: Find out when you need to go to the hospital?

COVID-19: Find out when you need to go to the hospital?

Last Reviewed : 01/11/2021
COVID-19: Find out when you need to go to the hospital?


  • Prioritize hospital care to old patients with underlying comorbidities and severe COVID-19
  • Patients with mild disease are managed at home
  • Patients with warning signs should go to the hospital
  • Earliest indicator to go to a hospital is drop in oxygen levels to 94% or lower

COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging various health care settings. With an increasing number of COVID-19 cases, it is crucial to prioritize hospital care to COVID-19 patients with severe disease and older patients with underlying comorbidities. SARS-CoV-2 positive patients are divided into two categories, one who requires hospital care, and the other that can be managed without hospital admission. Patients with severe symptoms require emergency care in the hospital and sometimes in an intensive care unit (ICU), whereas those with mild symptoms do not require hospital care.

How Do I Manage the Condition?

If you notice any COVID-19 symptoms or you have been confirmed SARS-CoV-2 positive with a diagnostic test, do not rush to the hospital. You are going to spread the infection, putting others at risk of contracting the virus to develop severe disease. Wait, think, and act wisely. Contact your healthcare provider and inform him about your symptoms or positive test results. Examine yourself first before heading to the hospital. If you have mild symptoms or your doctor says that your symptoms can be managed at home, do not go to the hospital. Instead, stay at home away from others, and take medications prescribed by your doctor.

Covid-19 Signs and Precautionary Measures

To prevent the spread of the disease, patients with mild symptoms must stay home, separated from others. Avoid going out even to hospitals unless there is an emergency. Patients with warning signs should go to ER, call 911, or local health care provider immediately. Before going to the hospital, make sure to inform the doctor and healthcare staff about your health and positive test results. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following are the warning signs that should be considered:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent chest pain or pressure
  • Blue lips or face
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake up or stay awake

Oxygen levels: It is imperative to check your oxygen levels at home using a pulse oximeter three times a day. Check oxygen levels after walking for 6 minutes. If you are not ambulatory, it is ok to check oxygen levels at rest. Any oxygen level at or below 94% is considered serious. This exertional drop in the oxygen level is the earliest indicator that COVID-19 is getting worse. It is critical that you call 911 or go to the closest ER right away whenever your oxygen levels drop to 94% or below.

Vital signs: other vital signs like respiratory rate, heart rate and blood pressure are also important indicators of the severity of illness. Heart rate is available on the pulse oximeter. It is common that heart rate in COVID-19 patients is on the higher side. Normal heart rate is anywhere between 60-100. In COVID-19 patients, heart rate can be elevated up to 120. Heart rate above 120 should be a warning sign and a healthcare provider should be approached. Blood pressure machine is not available with everyone. If you have one, check your blood pressure twice daily. Any drop in blood pressure below 90/60 should be notified to your doctor or go to the ER. A respiratory rate of above 25 breaths per minute should be a warning sign as well. It indicates that lungs are affected.

A few precautionary measures should be followed when you are going to a hospital.

  • Avoid public transportation
  • Drive your car
  • If you cannot drive, sit in the backseat and stay away from the driver as much as you can.
  • Wear a surgical mask or cover your nose and mouth with a cloth.
  • Avoid touching surfaces.
  • Use a sanitizer.
  • Stay 6 feet away from others.

If you notice any non-COVID symptoms severe enough to require hospital care, do not stop yourself from going to hospital due to the fear of coronavirus. If you have to go to the hospital, inform the doctor and hospital staff about your health. They will take effective measures to ensure you get the best treatment for your health.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) treatment. (2020, March 18). WebMD.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). (2020, June 1). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

WHO director-general's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 16 March 2020. (n.d.). WHO | World Health Organization.


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