What is Urgent Care? When Should You Go?

Do you know when to go to the ER versus urgent care?

A considerable number of Americans misuse their local emergency room by seeking care for non-urgent problems, like non-severe symptoms of a disease or minor injuries. But where should you go when something isn’t right and your doctor is unavailable?

Urgent care is there for precisely those moments. When should you go? Please keep reading for our complete guide to using the acute care system.

What Is Urgent Care?

Urgent care centers serve patients who can’t reach their primary care physician but do not have a life-threatening emergency or illness.

These centers provide the same care you might find in your doctor’s office but remain open outside traditional hours. They’re also available when you can’t get an appointment with your general physician in a period that suits your needs.

You can trust urgent care if you need an urgent appointment during the day, at night, or on the weekend.

When Should I Go to Urgent Care?

Urgent care can help you out of many kinds of scrapes. You can visit them for help with:

  • Minor accidents or slips and falls
  • Minor cuts requiring a few stitches
  • Mild to moderate asthma
  • Fever or flu
  • Little broken bones or fractures
  • X-rays
  • Laboratory tests (get your immigration medical exam at an urgent care by searching USCIS near me)
  • Minor infections
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration

These are all reasons to visit them – if you can’t see your doctor first.

When Should I Go to the Emergency Room?

The emergency room still serves a specific purpose that the resources found at urgent care can’t fill.

You should dial 911 or go to the ER whenever an emergency occurs.

What is an emergency? An emergency is an injury, illness, or condition that can endanger your life if left untreated for even a short period.

Some of the conditions or injuries best treated by the ER include:

  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Pregnancy-related issues
  • Fever in newborn babies
  • Heart attack symptoms
  • Stroke symptoms
  • Serious head, neck, or back injuries
  • Severe chest pain
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Knife wounds
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Compound fractures
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Poisoning
  • Suicidal ideation or behaviors

If you or someone you love experiences an injury or condition listed above or something that you believe threatens their life, then visit the closest ER.

An emergency room has specialists, equipment, and connections to treat life-threatening issues promptly.

What If I Go to Urgent Care When I Should Have Gone to the ER?

If the staff at your local urgent care center suspects something serious, they will transfer you directly to an emergency room or the hospital so you can get the treatment you need.

Why Choose Urgent Care?

Visiting urgent care makes a lot of sense for most of us. The centers are specialists in treating minor emergencies, including injuries and medical conditions, and taking care of minor problems before they escalate.

There are also other profound benefits that everyone should be aware of, including:

  • Shorter wait times
  • Saving money on treatment
  • Helping ERs run more efficiently

Your decision to visit this service has knock-on effects. Here’s why.

Shorter Wait Times

If you walk into an ER, you walk into a clinic dedicated to saving lives in the immediate future.

As a result, the ER triages patients as they arrive. Those with the worst emergencies (who often arrive by ambulance) head straight into the clinic. If you come with something less pressing, you could be stuck waiting for hours – if you’re lucky.

Otherwise, healthy patients who arrive with flu symptoms, minor cuts, or sprains receive treatment when the nurses and doctors have time. You could spend hours or even a day in the waiting room because life-threatening injuries take priority.

This service is more like a doctor’s office. Care providers mainly see you on a first-come-first-serve basis or even accept appointments.

Finally, by going to urgent care instead of the ER, you help reduce the wait times for people who need to be there.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

Saving Money

The cost of visiting the ER depends on your location and the treatment you need. But one thing remains true regardless of those factors: the ER is expensive.

Why is this universally true? ER doctors aren’t out to get you. However, managing an ER is more expensive than clinical practice.

The median cost of the average emergency room visit is $1,233. At the same time, some estimates suggest the median can reach as high as $2,168.

On the contrary, the average visit to an urgent care center costs $150.

Experts estimate that we could save $18 billion a year as a nation by skipping the ER and taking problems to urgent care centers instead.

Helping ERs

Emergency rooms and workers face a series of internal and external pressures. However, one of the most significant challenges everyone involved faces is capacity.

As our population ages and more people live longer with the effects of chronic disease, emergency departments need to allot more time for patients while also seeing more patients.

We can reduce some pressure by triaging ourselves via urgent care centers. In turn, it reduces capacity and keeps uninsured or underinsured people from unnecessary spending, which helps alleviate some financial pressure facing ERs.

Find Your Local Urgent Care

What is urgent care? It’s there for you when you have the flu, cut your hand, or fracture a toe.

If your injury or illness isn’t life-threatening, visiting this service will save you time and money. It also takes the pressure off your local ER and helps the healthcare system as a whole.

Plus, if you go to urgent care and you still need to visit the hospital, you’ll get a referral to get right into the ER.

Do you want to take charge of your health? Check out our article on medical websites like WebMD.


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