It can be alarming to start having symptoms, like breaking out in a rash, high fevers, infections, etc. Luckily, for many of us, a medical clinic, urgent care, or emergency room care is available for when we have those emergencies. Emergency room doctors are often seen as being overworked, hassled, and impersonal, but in truth, they do an amazing amount — everything from as minor as some stitches if you’ve cut yourself cooking to treating a patient who has suffered a heart attack, stroke, or another serious injury. However, it’s a common complaint among those in the healthcare profession — and rightly so — that many people head straight to the emergency room when they don’t need to. So how do you know where to go if you’re facing a health emergency serious enough to warrant medical care?
When Do You Go to Urgent Care?
Generally, urgent care is available for patients that do not have life-threatening emergencies, but with injuries or symptoms serious enough that they need to be treated within 24 hours. Around 85% of urgent care centers are open seven days a week, so you can access them when an emergency arises. The most common visit is for respiratory issues and the second most common is for fixing a wound.
(Four-fifths of urgent care centers offer fracture repair services.) Other reasons to head to urgent care first might be trouble breathing (but can still breathe), vomiting or having diarrhea, or having an unexplained rash that can’t be treated with antihistamines. These are all things that are serious enough to take care of right away, but not serious enough to wait (usually in comfortably) in an ER waiting room for hours.
What Warrants a Trip to the Emergency Room?
If you need to call 911, you should be heading to the ER immediately . You shouldn’t hesitate to go to the emergency room if you’re facing a situation where the injuries are life threatening. Some examples of this are chest pains (that might signal a stroke or heart attack), severe loss of blood, being unconscious, bad neck, head, and spinal injuries. These are all definite priorities at the emergency room and for the emergency room doctors.
What Should You Bring With You If Possible To the ER?
Although many trips to the ER can be fraught with panic, you or a loved one should be able to tell the emergency room doctors in a clear and concise manner why you’re in the ER and what the symptoms or history of symptoms are. If possible, it’s also helpful to bring a list of allergies, medications you’re on, any current health issues you’re being treated for, and any surgeries you’ve had done in your lifetime.
Knowing when to go to urgent care and when to go the ER can help save you hours in an overcrowded waiting room and have you seen to in a more expedient manner. ER visits can also be quite costly, so knowing when to go to cheaper urgent care for the same thing you might head to the ER for can also help save you money in the long run.