How to Decide if Urgent Care vs ER is More Appropriate
When you experience physical health symptoms that leave you uncomfortable or feeling ill, you may not be sure where to go for medical care.
There are so many care options today, from your personal physician to the ER. Knowing where you should go can be difficult.
Although you may want to head to the urgent care clinic to save money on your insurance payments or on your copay, there are times when you must go to the emergency room in health emergencies to save your life or get quick treatment.
Here are 4 questions that you can ask yourself before making your decision as to where you should go.
1. Does It Require Quick Treatment?
The emergency room is the place you should go for a condition that requires immediate help. For example, the ER is the place to go for serious bleeding, large burns, and other major injuries that cannot be treated at home and that will continue to worsen without quick treatment.
The ER uses a triage system to determine who has the most serious condition and who needs to be seen first.
2. Is It a Life-Altering Concern?
The emergency room is also the place to go for conditions that threaten your life. For example, symptoms of stroke or heart attack / cardiac arrest should be seen to immediately.
Other symptoms that require ER care include bleeding during pregnancy, seizures, concussions and eye injuries.
Problems that require a surgery, an IV pump, or other hospital-only supplies also require an ER visit.
3. Is It Not a True Emergency?
Symptoms like those from ocular problems including glaucoma but which are not true emergencies can wait to be treated without causing any further harm.
Urgent care is a great place to go when your own doctor is not available to see you, or when your doctor’s office is not open.
Your urgent care office is the place to go for minor illnesses or less significant injuries.
4. Are Symptoms Gradual and Recognizable?
If your symptoms appear gradually rather than immediately, chances are that they are not immediately life-threatening. They may need to be attended to urgently although not immediately, like in the case of symptoms of cancer.
For example, these could include aches and pains in joints or a cough that does not go away. Additionally, you may recognize your symptoms from something that happened to you in the past. You may recognize that you are experiencing influenza or a UTI. You know then that in these situations, urgent care treatment to get a prescription is the safe and smart choice.
Keep in mind that while your local emergency room is open at every hour of the day and even on holidays, your urgent care usually closes during the night and on many holidays.
Therefore, if you feel that you need quick care during one of these off-hours, you may want to head to the emergency room.
Remember that life-threatening conditions call for an emergency room visit or even an ambulance ride. Non-life-threatening conditions call for cheaper and often faster urgent care centers.
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