Urgent Care vs Emergency Room: When To Go Where

When an emergency occurs, it can be difficult to think straight. Whether it’s you or a loved one, your main concern is getting help.

That can cause problems down the line, usually with finances. For example, a simple sprained ankle can cost you as much as $24,000 at the emergency room!

With the rise of urgent care clinics, you have options beyond a hospital visit. Do you know how to distinguish between a true emergency and something that can wait?

The next time you have a medical emergency, will you know whether to go to the emergency room or a clinic? Keep reading and you’ll be prepared the next time you’re faced with a crisis.

Contact Your Physician First

Before you even consider your options, you might be able to contact the person who knows best — your doctor.

Many doctors are giving patients ways to reach out to them after office hours. For example, they might set up a phone number or email to use.

Before you’re dealing with a crisis, call your doctor and find out if they have something like that set up. That way, when you’re in a panic, you can say to the emergency staff “I’ve spoken with this doctor and here’s what they recommend”.

Comparing Clinics And Emergency Rooms

ERs are staffed by doctors and nurses and have access to the equipment necessary to run complex tests. The good news is, most urgent care centers do too.

Many times, you can get comparable if not equal care at a clinic than you can at an ER. Often, this care is even a fraction of the price of an ER visit.

Sprained ankles and even minor fractions can be treated at a clinic instead of an ER. They can handle mild allergic reactions and infections as well.

Benefits Of Urgent Care Centers

Emergency rooms are open 24/7, which is convenient. But many clinics have extended hours that range from early in the morning to late after work.

Some clinics can offer you prescriptions right inside or help you find a pharmacy to meet your needs.

What if you’re not sure what category your emergency falls into? We’ve got a basic guide that will help you make that decision.

What To Do For Common Emergencies

What constitutes a real emergency and what can be taken care of at an urgent care clinic? Here’s a handy list that will help you determine one way or another.

  • Cuts — If your cut can’t be pulled closed or is deeper than 1/4 inch, go to a clinic. If you need plastic surgery or it’s very deep, go to the ER
  • Head Injury — For minor concussions, go to the clinic. If the patient is very young, old, or is losing consciousness, go to the ER.
  • Cough — For a cough that won’t quit, try the clinic. If you’re expelling frothy pink sputum and/or have a high fever, head to the ER.

Now you’re prepared and know what to do in the midst of an emergency. Want to learn more about health and wellness? Check back often for the latest tips, tricks, and trends to live your best and healthiest life.