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Urgent Care vs. ER: Which Should You Go To?

April 10, 2017
urgent care

When you have a medical concern, it is sometimes difficult to know if you should go to an urgent care facility or the emergency room. People often believe you get the best medical care at an emergency medical facility. But you can get the same amount and level of care at an urgent care center, and will typically be seen more quickly and charged much less. According to a 2010 Rand Corporation study, one in five visits to the ER could be treated at an urgent care facility, saving roughly $4.4 billion in healthcare costs a year.

When should you visit the ER instead of an urgent care facility?

Major Injuries
The ER is the best option for major injuries. Major injuries include large wounds, heavy bleeding areas, bad burns and broken bones. Any type of head injury should always prompt an ER visit, even if it seems minor. Urgent care should be used if no ER is available.

Chest Pains and Difficulty Breathing
If you are experiencing chest pains, it is best to go to the ER in case those symptoms are a precursor to a heart attack. Difficulty breathing is also another symptom that is best addressed at the ER.

When should you visit an urgent care clinic instead of the ER?

Minor Injuries
Most minor injuries can be dealt with at an urgent care center. Wounds like cuts on fingers that won’t stop bleeding or an ankle that feels sprained could be checked out an urgent care instead of enduring a long wait to be seen in the ER.

Visits
Physical examinations and follow-ups can usually be done at urgent care. If the urgent care facility has your medical records, they should be able to access your recent care information and provide you with follow-up care or a check-up.

Minor sicknesses
You can go to an urgent care center for a minor illness, like a cold or bronchitis. Doctors there are able to prescribe medication and give you the care you need.

Chronic Conditions
Treatment for things like diabetes or hypertension can be done at urgent care. Many people think the ER is the only option for this type of care, but many urgent care facilities are able to assist you with ease.

Knowing when to go to the ER versus urgent care can save you a lot of time, money and frustration. Not all conditions need to be solved at a pricey and crowded ER facility.

For more information on urgent care, please contact AFC/Doctors Express

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