How to Decide Between Urgent Care vs Emergency Room

How to Decide Between Urgent Care vs Emergency Room : Every year, 20 percent of the American population goes to the emergency room for some type of treatment or health issue. Though many of those trips are for true emergency situations, thousands of people end up using the emergency room when they don’t need to.

For many people, identifying when the time is right to use urgent care vs emergency room treatments can be difficult. After all, when you’re not feeling well, all you want to do is get to the doctor as quickly as possible.

Both urgent care and emergency rooms give you access to experienced medical professionals. So, how can you decide which one is right for your current situation?

Here are a few things to keep in mind so you can make the best choice for your needs.

See if Your Primary Care Doctor Is Available

When you’re injured or sick, it’s easy to look for the first open medical practice you can find. This leads many people to assume that they need to decide between urgent care vs emergency care.

Though you’re free to seek treatment at the emergency room or an urgent care practice, it’s almost always best to see your primary care physician. Unless the illness or injury requires immediate care outside of standard office hours, your primary care physician will likely be able to help.

They understand your health history and know what types of medications you’re taking or what allergies you have already. You’ll get more personalized care by working with your primary care physician every single time.

That said, if your doctor is unable to see you or you’re sick outside of standard office hours, an urgent care near me or the emergency room will be your best choice.

Think About the Type of Care You’re Looking For

Before you rush to the hospital, think about the type of care you’re looking for. Are you hoping to get a prescription quickly to help you beat an ongoing chest infection? Or do you need more advanced care that won’t be available at a walk-in clinic?

By identifying what you want out of the trip, you’ll be better able to choose between an urgent care facility or heading to the emergency room.

Keep in mind that both urgent care centers and emergency rooms hire staff members that are well trained and experienced. You won’t necessarily get higher quality care by going to an emergency room.

If you’re worried about the experience of the staff at each facility you’re considering, do a little research. Read the online reviews left by previous patients if you have time. If they’re happy with the treatment they received, you likely will be, too.

Consider the Severity of the Injury or Issue

As a general rule, if your illness or injury is something your primary care doctor could treat, urgent care is your best option. However, if you feel that your condition might be life-threatening or requires immediate care, the emergency room is best.

Examine the injury or problem you’re facing in detail.

If you feel that the condition is life-threatening, go to the emergency room immediately. These are a few conditions that require emergency treatment:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pains
  • Head injuries
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cuts with severe bleeding

Many people end up going to the emergency room when an urgent care facility is all they truly need. However, if you’re ever unsure, err on the side of caution and go to the emergency room instead.

It’s better to be overly cautious and seek treatment at a facility that has the tools to treat every possible condition than it is to head to a clinic that can’t help you.

Pay Attention to How Much Time You Have

Emergency rooms specialize in treating emergency situations. They prioritize patients with severe problems over those with acute or minor conditions.

This means if your problem isn’t truly severe, you may end up having to wait longer to see a doctor and get the treatment you need.

According to the experts behind, it’s best to consider how much time you have if you’re thinking of going to the E.R. for non-emergency treatment. If you’re in a hurry, urgent care will be able to get you in and out faster.

You’ll still receive quality care, but you’ll do it without having to wait for hours at a time.

Understand Your Finances

Believe it or not, the emergency room is almost always more expensive than urgent care even if you have insurance. This is because insurance companies classify emergency room visits and urgent care appointments in different ways.

Insurance providers tend to treat urgent care trips similarly to visits to your primary care physician. They’re a walk-in clinic that treats similar conditions and illnesses.

When you visit the emergency room, you’ll pay a premium for emergency treatment.

Before you visit the E.R., review your insurance policy. If the illness or health condition requires emergency treatment, that premium is worth paying. However, if you’re just needing a doctor to help you deal with something minor, you’ll save money by going to urgent care.

Listen to the Urgent Care Provider’s Advice

Urgent care doctors know their limits and the limits of their practice better than anyone else. Even if you go to an urgent care facility, they may end up referring you to the emergency room.

If this is the case, listen to their advice and go as soon as possible.

They’re not trying to avoid offering you medical care. They’re trying to get you the help you need so you can recover as quickly as possible.

Choosing Between Urgent Care vs Emergency Treatment Is Simple

The hardest part about choosing between urgent care vs emergency room visits is knowing how severe your injury or illness is. As a general rule, go to urgent care for any illness or injury that isn’t a true emergency. If you feel that your injury is life-threatening, go to the emergency room.

The most important thing is that you get the medical care you need to be as healthy as possible.

Though you’re free to go to either urgent care or the emergency room when you need help, it’s best if you can avoid needing medical treatment in the first place. Check out our latest posts for more tips to help you and your loved ones improve your health and wellness.



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