It goes without saying that injuries need medical attention. Serious injuries need the medical attention of a professional, however, not all serious injuries warrant a trip to the emergency room. This is where urgent care centers come in.
An urgent care center is a walk in health clinic designed to help patients with an illness or injury that is not life…threatening, but also cannot wait for a scheduled appointment with a primary care doctor. Most are open nearly, if not all, hours of the day, every day of the week — over 2/3 of urgent care clinics were open before 9 am during the week according to a national survey. Urgent care centers are also very commonly used, with over 300 patient visits per week on average.
Urgent v. Emergency
Before making the trip to any medical facility, it is important to assess the situation properly and to determine which place will provide the proper care in that instance. Examples of situations that would require an emergency clinic/room visit include:
-Severe chest pain/difficulty breathing
-Loss of consciousness
-Heavy, uncontrollable bleeding
-Gun or knife wounds
-Heart attack (warning signs like chest pain for longer than 2 minutes)
-Stroke (warning signs like vision loss, sudden numbness, slurred speech, confusion)
Examples of situations that would require an a trip to an urgent care unit include:
-Sprains and strains
-Moderate back problems
-Difficulty breathing (ex: mild to moderate asthma)
-Bleeding/cuts (something not bleeding profusely, but requiring stitches)
-Diagnostic services (ex: X-rays and lab tests)
-Eye irritation and/or redness
-Vomiting, diarrhea or dehydration
-Severe sore throat/cough
-Minor broken bones/fractures (ex: fingers, toes)
-Skin rashes and infections
Distinguishing between what warrants an emergency room visit versus a walk in health clinic visit can make all the difference not only with regards to a person’s life/health, but also their financial situation — the cost difference between an urgent care visit and an ER visit for the same diagnosis ranges from $228 to $583.
Urgent care walk in health clinics and ERs both provide a immediate medical attention. However, double-check the injury to ensure that the patient is being treated at the best possible facility of the two.