Should I Go to the ER or Urgent Care? Here is When to Go to Each

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Should I Go to the ER or Urgent Care

Life is fragile! It’s easy for injuries and sudden illnesses to appear as if from thin air, leaving you confused and worried. Accidents are common and sudden pains arise without warning. It’s what you do in these situations that is important.

Of course, there are many healthcare options out there that one needs to consider. If you’re experiencing trouble, you could head to the ER or urgent care, as many people do, though deciding between these two destinations can be difficult.

There are certain factors that can help you to decide when to go to one kind of location and when to go to another. Read on and we’ll walk you through what you need to know.

Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room

What are the differences between urgent care and an emergency room? There are similarities and key differences you need to be aware of when a worst-case scenario arises.

There are many people out there who don’t even realize that these are two different locations. However, everything from the cost to the level of care provided can vary between these locations.

Urgent care centers are more plentiful than hospitals, making them more easily accessible to a large number of people. The costs at urgent care centers also tend to be lower than those that patients might face at hospitals. With costs of medical care high across all of the country, this can be a big deal to many who are seeking help.

Those needing immediate assistance are also more likely to find it quickly by heading to an urgent care center over a hospital ER. Unless you are in very bad shape, you’ll be more likely to wait at the ER to see a doctor. You have a better chance of seeing a doctor when you head to an urgent care center.

Of course, the level of care that a hospital can provide far exceeds an urgent care center. If you need tests, x-rays, or blood work is done, this is likely not something the urgent care center near you is able to provide. In fact, they’ll likely send you to the nearest hospital!

An urgent care center is also not really equipped to handle incredibly serious medical situations. If a person had an injury or illness that could prove fatal, for example, the team at these kinds of places may not be equipped to handle it.

When Should You Go to an Urgent Care Center?

It needs to be stressed that urgent care is not the same as emergency care. Urgent care services should not be seen as the place to go when such a situation arises. However, it does provide a great alternative to the ER when your injuries or illnesses aren’t as serious or life-threatening.

There are a wide number of situations that may be perfect for urgent care workers to take care of. These include common illnesses such as colds, fevers, and minor cases of flu. Often, doctors can diagnose these sicknesses and prescribe medication to help you get over them in a timely manner.

Minor pains in the body, including in the abdomen, can be checked out by a doctor at an urgent care doctor. They can help you to determine if the pain if something worth being worried about. Often, it might just be an ache that will go away on its own in a few day’s time.

Dehydration, shortness of breath, and wheezing can also be looked into at an urgent care center. These problems often will also go away with little care and are not worth paying ER prices to handle.

Sprains, strains, and small cuts can also be treated at an urgent care center. Any damage to the body that will not worsen on its own can be treated at a better price at an urgent care center, even those that might require stitches.

Of course, you can still attempt to visit your primary care doctor for these issues as well, but if you’re running into problems outside of their office hours, an urgent care center is a great place to go.

When Should You Go to the ER?

So when do you need to skip past urgent care and straight to the emergency room? In short, any time you’re experiencing problems that could be potentially life-threatening. If there is a chance of a life-changing injury or death, you need to get assistance as soon as possible. That means 911 and heading to the hospital.

What kind of symptoms would fall under this umbrella? Chest pains and shortness of breath that might be indicative of heart problems certainly would be. Seizures and severe allergic reactions, such as those that create problems with proper breathing, also would.

If you’ve experienced serious burns, cuts, and wounds you also might want to head to the ER. Again, the keyword here is serious. A cut on your finger might be worth a trip to the urgent care center, but a large gash that is continually losing blood might need more serious treatment.

If you’ve been injured and are having trouble with your brain function, that might also be worth a trip to the ER. Mental states such as confusion and slurred thinking could be indicative of brain damage. Loss of consciousness completely can also mean trouble.

Broken bones, especially in the rib cage or pelvis, can cause further issues with internal organs and should be treated at an ER as soon as possible as well.

Get the Help You Need

If you’ve found yourself in a minor medical emergency it can be difficult to determine where to go. Should you check yourself into the ER or urgent care?

The above information can help you decide which provider can give you the kind of care you need when you need it. Have more health questions or need advice? Keep scrolling our blog for more.