Any one of us can suffer from a sudden happening that causes us mild to moderate discomfort. This may be in the form of an ankle sprain that could happen while hurriedly climbing down the stairs with a heavy bag in hand or a small but deep cut that you got while fixing up the garage door. It can be a stomachache that seems to painfully twist up your intestines every few minutes or a racking cough that won’t let you sleep. Whenever we experience any such scenario, the question comes: Should we go to the ER or not? Or What about Urgent Care? Whats the difference between Urgent Care vs Emergency Room?
What is an ER or Emergency Room?
An emergency room is the medical and health facility that is equipped to deal with a number of cases that need to be addressed as soon as possible. Such cases may be as minor as a small finger cut or as serious and life threatening as a cardiac arrest. An ER is typically stocked with all the necessary drugs and equipment that may be required for resuscitation and support as well as the machinery for conducting all sorts of tests. It is also equipped to deal with emergency procedures that may be needed to revive someone or keep him/her alive. An ER is staffed with a team of on-call doctors and paramedical staff round the clock ready to act on a moment’s notice.
What is Urgent Care?
Urgent care refers to the providence of medical and health services by a certified facility that addresses situations that need immediate treatment. Such cases are usually mild to moderate in severity and are never life threatening.
An urgent care facility is stocked with all the necessary medications and devices that may be needed for resuscitation as well as to provide support. It may or may not have the machines required for conducting tests. It does not have the trained staff or the facilities to conduct emergency procedures for a collapsing patient. It only has a limited number of trained staff present on-call. The primary goal of an urgent care facility is to relieve patient discomfort.
Emergency Rooms, Urgent Care and your Primary Healthcare Provider
An emergency room is best for treating situations which may be categorized between moderate and severe. Even though an ER can and will treat any and all mild and minor discomfort, it is best to not burden the ER staff unnecessarily when there is other options present.
Other options besides the ER
An urgent care facility can deal with all minor trauma and illnesses so it is best to head to one if such a scenario occurs. A primary health provider is your regular doctor. The one you go to for regular or routine check ups after getting an appointment. So if you have a mild condition, it is best to first call your primary health provider to check if he/she is available and inquire if you can get a same-day appointment. If you can, definitely head for the clinic and get yourself examined and treated adequately. If for some reason you cannot get a same-day appointment or if your doctor is not available, then the smartest option is to visit an urgent care facility.
When to Go to an ER?
The conditions mentioned below are considered severe or have the potential to become severe and possibly life threatening. Therefore, it is advised to immediately head to the nearest emergency room if you experience any such symptoms:
You should head for an urgent care facility when you feel you are relatively alright and only have a minor ailment. Such scenarios may include:
Ankle or wrist sprain
Chronic back pain
A small cut
Mild to a moderate headache
Mild to moderate abdominal pain
Burning micturition especially with a history of UTIs
Bleeding from gums
Low-grade fever with no rash
Nausea and vomiting
Minor eye infection
A sore throat with or without a cough
Minor skin infection
Urgent Care vs Emergency Room
Once you assess the severity of your predicament, you can head to the appropriate facility. If your ailment fits in the urgent care category, then you can drive yourself there, but if you can’t (because of a sprain for example) then you should call a family member/friend/neighbor to take you there. If none of this is a viable option then you should dial 911 and request an ambulance.
If your ailment fits in the ER category then (regardless of your ability to drive or not) you should dial 911 and request an ambulance. Remember the cardinal rule: better safe than sorry!
If you are a Texas resident then you may visit any of our neighborhood emergency rooms for optimum treatment. SignatureCare Emergency Center offers quality treatment for minor and major medical emergencies.
It is good to have some basic knowledge regarding the best medium for treatment. Reaching the right facility at the right time is integral in both ensuring proper handling of the situation as well as being considerate of the people working at that facility.
If you ever have the need for immediate medical care for yourself or a loved one, this article should help you in going in the right direction.