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Emergency Room or Urgent Care? Which Should I Choose?

Emergency Room or Urgent Care? Which Should I Choose?

In the event that we, or someone we know, gets hurt, obtaining the proper medical attention in a reasonable time is everyone’s concern. The first thing most of us think of is traveling to emergency services such as hospitals or primary care physicians. However, some injuries do not always require these specialists and can be addressed by walk in health clinics and urgent care facilities. Having trouble deciding whether or not to visit an emergency room or urgent care center? Consider these things before making your next move:

Emergency Room VS. Urgent Care
Before you can decide which service to contact, it is important to understand the difference between the two. For one, the ER is purposed for true medical emergencies. They are equipped with tools for just about any medical situation and are usually attached to a hospital if emergency surgery or any other escalation is required. On average, they offer 24 hour service every day of the week.

Urgent care centers are a little different. They are equipped to handle non-life threatening injuries similar to that of a doctor’s office. More than three-quarters of urgent care centers are also available seven days a week with most having office hours starting at 9 a.m. and ending around 7 p.m. Most urgent care centers have wait times of 20 minutes or less and are usually staffed with family care physicians. Emergency rooms tend to have medical professionals from various backgrounds to service the many needs of patients.

When to go to the Emergency Room
You should visit your nearest emergency room if you or someone you know is experiencing an of the following:

  • An allergic reaction to food, animal or bug bites
  • Broken bones
  • Chest pain
  • Chronic vomiting
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Deep wounds
  • Head injuries
  • Unconsciousness

When to go to Urgent Care
If your situation is not life-threatening, visit an urgent care facility if you experience the following:

  • Flu and cold
  • Coughs and sore throat
  • High fevers
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain
  • Minor injuries and burns
  • Cuts and severe scrapes

In a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), emergency rooms service around 129.8 million people annually, most of which could have simply gone to a walk in health clinic instead. In fact, unnecessary visits to the ER waste, on average, $784 and a total of three hours when choosing an urgent care office would have been the better choice. The next time you or someone you know needs medical attention, take the time to assess the situation to make the best choice. A walk in health clinic may be what you need.