When you’re worried about your health, you want answers now. However, there are conditions that require prompt medical attention but are not emergencies. It’s estimated that up to 27% of patients treated at an emergency room could have received the care they needed from an urgent care center or their primary care physician. And it pays to know when to go to the emergency room or urgent care; an emergency room visit could cost up to twice the amount of an urgent care visit.
Urgent Care or the Emergency Room?
When To Go To The Emergency Room
The emergency room should be used when you have a life-threatening or disabling condition, illness or injury. If you’re experiencing any of the following, the emergency room may be the right option:
- Severe shortness of breath
- Chest pain; numbness in the face, arm or leg; difficulty speaking
- Cut or wound that won’t stop bleeding
- High fever with stiff neck, mental confusion or difficulty breathing
- Unexplained or sudden loss of consciousness
- Obvious broken bones
- Coughing or vomiting blood
- Head, neck or spine injury
- Severe burn
- Electric shock or lightning strike
- Severe abdominal pain
- Possible poisoning or overdose
- Severe allergic reaction
When To Go To The Urgent Care Center
Urgent care centers can treat medical issues that need to be addressed right away but aren’t emergencies. If you can’t see your primary care physician soon enough, visit the urgent care center for the following concerns:
- Sore throat
- Low-grade fever
- Minor cuts or burns
- Recurring chronic condition
Find an Urgent Care Clinic near you for convenient care that is close to home.
Be Prepared for a Medical Emergency
In any medical crisis, it’s best to be prepared. Make sure you program all emergency numbers into your cell phone or keep a list by your home phone. Important numbers to have handy include fire, police and poison control. If you believe you are experiencing a medical emergency, dial 9-1-1.