We know you have questions about going to an urgent care or emergency room (ER). We are here to provide answers.
Should You Use Urgent Care or Emergency Room?
The answer depends on the illness you are trying to see a physician for.
Urgent Care facilities can have less wait time than major hospital emergency rooms, but they are typically only open until 6:00 pm – 5 days a week. When a medical emergency occurs after hours, you are likely to find that no urgent care facility is available to treat you and your family.
Some of these free-standing emergency rooms also have convenient locations. So, how do you know when to go to an urgent care center versus an when to go to a free standing emergency room?
When to go to a Free Standing Emergency Room
Free standing emergency rooms are equipped to handle the most complex and critical medical needs. This includes broken or detached limbs, heart attacks, stroke, and other life-threatening conditions. Urgent care facilities are not.
Urgent Care Centers Treat Minor Illnesses, Like Family Doctors
Think of urgent care as your family doctor. If you would feel comfortable taking your illness or concern to your doctor, then urgent care is the right place to go.
This could include a sore throat, sinus pressure, a nagging pain in your joint, a slight fever, and many other minor conditions. Some urgent care facilities have on-site pharmacies that make it simple to get a prescription such as an antibiotic filled before you leave.
The emergency room covers all other medical concerns that may need rapid response or advanced treatment. Below is a partial list of symptoms that are best treated in the emergency room.
Symptoms Best Treated in the Emergency Room (ER)
Persistent chest pain, especially if it radiates to your arm or jaw or is accompanied by sweating, vomiting, or shortness of breath
Any severe pain, particularly in the abdomen or starting halfway down the back
Sudden clumsiness, loss of balance, or fainting
Sudden difficulty speaking or trouble understanding speech
Altered mental status or confusion, including suicidal thoughts
Sudden weakness or paralysis, especially on one side of the face or body