Where do I go? The Emergency Room? Or an Urgent Care Center?
When you have a life-threatening situation, such as chest pain, or a sudden and severe pain, the emergency department of the nearest hospital is the only option. If you went to an urgent care clinic, they'd just send you on to the ER in an ambulance. But if your condition is less serious, but still requires immediate attention, choosing an urgent care facility can save you loads of time and money, as well as keeping the emergency room free to handle more serious situations.
If you have a sprained ankle, or an ear infection, you may end up waiting for many hours in the emergency room and paying hundreds of dollars. Most urgent care centers are open for extended hours, and will be able to accomodate you more quickly.
When you need to go to the Emergency Room:
If you have a serious condition - stroke, heart attack, severe bleeding, head injury or other major trauma - go straight to the nearest ER. Don't take a chance with anything life-threatening. The ER is the best place for these and other critical conditions, including:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe bleeding or head trauma
- Loss of consciousness
- Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision
When an Urgent Care Center can better meet your needs:
- Minor burns or injuries
- Sprains and strains
- Coughs, colds, and sore throats
- Ear infections
- Allergic reactions (non life-threatening)
- Fever or flu-like symptoms
- Rash or other skin irritations
- Mild asthma
- Animal bites
- Broken Bones
And when in doubt, call ahead. If the urgent care clinic in question can't accomodate your condition, they will advise you to go the nearest emergency facility.
Remember, urgent care clinics are also a resource for flu shots, and physicals for sports or school.