Urgent care or emergency room? The number of people visiting most urgent care centers is growing, according to the Urgent Care Association of America. You're sick, hurt or have some other healthcare issue. And now you're wondering if you should join the many who've chosen the urgent care center option. If you're on the fence, check out the reasons to go with urgent care and one very serious reason not to.
You've got a scratchy throat and stuffy nose and don't feel like yourself. You're tired, have a slight headache, and are thinking that you may have caught your toddler's strep throat. Or, you might have a cold. You don't know. After all, you're not a doctor. When a minor illness strikes, an urgent care center offers the help that you need without hours of wait time. You can see a doctor, get diagnostic testing, and even get a prescription without having to spend the day hanging out in the local hospital's waiting room.
Accidents and Injuries
Your little slugger slid into home plate and twisted their ankle. It's swollen and they're in pain. An urgent care center has the diagnostic imagining equipment and the medical staff that they need right now. The doctor can examine the injury, evaluate it and cast it, provide stitches, or bandage it up.
The sports season is starting next week, and you forget to get the pediatrician to sign your child's medical form. You call the doctor's office, only to find that they can't sign the form until after it's due. Now what? Even though you can't just drop a form off at the urgent care center for a doctor to sign, your child can get an on-the-spot physical. This walk-in service makes it easy to get the well visit your child needs before the doctor can fill out the form.
Emergency Room Option
Even though urgent care clinics can help patients with plenty of different healthcare needs, sometimes an emergency department is absolutely necessary. A serious illness or severe injury require the medical care that an ER can provide. These include (but aren't limited to) extreme pain that interferes with your daily activities or that has no known cause, a deep wound, excessive bleeding, a life-threatening injury, a life-threatening illness, a life-threatening allergic reaction or symptoms that seem serious. Examples of possible serious symptoms are chest pain, difficulty breathing, a high fever, a crushing headache, vision changes, sudden hearing changes, loss of feeling in a body part, or anything that would require a call to emergency services.
If you have no idea whether you should choose the urgent care center or the ER, call your regular doctor or the emergency department. Of course, if you (or a loved one) is in an emergency situation, don't wait. Call 911 and get to the hospital right away.