Emergency Room, Urgent Care, Or Wait For An Appointment?

Knowing when to seek medical care is important to taking care of yourself and your family. However, knowing when you should go to the emergency room, an urgent care center, or wait for an appointment can be confusing. Here's a breakdown of what types of medical needs each one is best suited for and how to determine which one is right for you.

Emergency Room Visits

The emergency room (ER) should only be used in cases that require immediate medical attention and could potentially be life-threatening if not treated. Examples include severe chest pain, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, uncontrollable bleeding, stroke symptoms, head injuries or concussions, and broken bones. In these cases, it's always best to call 911 or go directly to the ER.

Urgent Care Services

Urgent care centers have convenient, extended hours. They are best suited for illnesses or injuries that need immediate treatment but aren't serious enough to warrant an emergency room visit, including:

  • Cuts and scrapes that need cleaning and stitches, but the bleeding is controlled.
  • Sprains and strains that need a doctor's attention but are unlikely to have broken bones that need to be set.
  • Flu-like symptoms, earaches, and sore throats that are not resolving on their own or that you suspect may be more serious infections requiring antibiotics, like strep throat.
  • Urinary tract or yeast infections that are too painful to wait for an available doctor's appointment but need a prescription.

Some urgent care centers offer additional services like x-rays, lab tests, and routine immunizations.

Doctor Appointments

If your condition isn't life-threatening and doesn't require the immediate attention of an urgent care center, waiting for a doctor's appointment may be the best option. This includes issues such as allergies, skin conditions like rashes or eczema, chronic illnesses such as diabetes or high blood pressure that require regular monitoring by a physician, and physical exams like annual checkups or school sports physicals. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may even be able to get a same-day appointment with your doctor if necessary.

No matter what type of illness or injury you have, it's always important to seek medical treatment when needed. If it's something serious, go straight away to the emergency room. For less serious conditions, urgent care centers are often a great option since they provide prompt access to medical care without having to wait too long for an appointment with your doctor. Knowing which option you should choose will help you get the right medical care you need when you need it.

For more information, contact a company like 75th St Injury & Illness Center.