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Emergency Room or Urgent Care: How to Choose Which One You Need

    How do you know whether to go to the emergency room or urgent care center? Here’s how to decide whether your medical problem needs urgent or emergency care.


    Emergencies happen, but it isn’t always clear where you should go. In 2013, about 71 percent of emergency department visits were unnecessary and could have been treated at another facility.

    But how do you know whether to go to the emergency room or urgent care center? Here’s how to decide whether your medical problem needs urgent or emergency care.


    The Difference Between Emergency Rooms and Urgent Care


    Both of these facilities address medical needs quickly, but there are distinct differences. Urgent care or walk-in facilities fill in when you are injured or sick and your primary care doctor is not available. If you would feel comfortable going to your doctor for your medical need, you should probably choose the urgent care facility.

    Emergency rooms handle more critical and complex medical conditions like heart attacks, strokes, or traumatic injuries. Hospitals admit patients that need additional care or can perform emergency surgery if needed.


    When to Go to Urgent Care


    If you need care and cannot see your normal doctor, you should go to urgent care. You should only go to urgent care if your medical need is not life-threatening or risking disability.

    Common problems you should go to urgent care clinics for immediate help include:


    • Sprains or strains
    • Common illnesses like colds, sore throats, rashes without fevers, or migraines
    • Minor cuts or burns
    • Minor eye injuries
    • Dehydration
    • Sinus problems
    • Ear infection
    • Urinary tract infection


    These symptoms usually come on gradually. You may even know what the problem is, such as a sinus infection. Urgent care facilities will treat your medical problem the same day so you don’t have to wait for care.

    You should not replace your primary care doctor with urgent care. These facilities are just a replacement if your doctor is not available in the necessary time frame.


    When to Go to the Emergency Room


    There are some medical conditions that should be treated in a hospital setting. These conditions require advanced treatments like surgery or need rapid treatment to prevent further damage.

    If you or a loved one have any of these conditions, you should go to the emergency room:

    • Head injury
    • Chest pain
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Fainting
    • Change of mental state
    • Slurred speech
    • Severe burns
    • Concussion
    • Numbness or weakness on one side
    • Seizures
    • Fever with a rash
    • Severe flu symptoms
    • Broken bones
    • Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy


    You should always trust your gut about the condition. If you feel you can’t wait to talk to a doctor, then you should probably head to an ER like the Emergency Centre in Brisbane.

    Don’t hesitate if you have any serious injuries or conditions listed above—go to the emergency room immediately.


    Emergency Room or Urgent Care: Which to Choose?


    When deciding about whether to go to the emergency room or urgent care, you should think about if you can wait for treatment. If you would go to your primary doctor, you should go to urgent care. 

    To help prevent illness and medical conditions, take a look at some of the other articles for useful information on how to stay healthy. You can also find information on nutrition, recipes, and supplement reviews.