An injury or illness is never convenient. You or someone you love may fall ill on an evening, holiday, or weekend, when you cannot reach your primary care provider for advice. When an injury or illness occurs, knowing when you can go to a walk-in clinic – or when you should report directly in an emergency room – can save you time and additional expense.
When to Use a Walk-In Clinic
A walk-in clinic or urgent care is best for situations where you would normally see your primary care provider, but they are not available. Urgent cares play a vital role in filling the gaps between the family physician and emergency room. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that among patients who visited the ER but were not admitted, nearly half went because their doctor’s office wasn’t open.
Some people use the emergency room as an after-hour clinic but will face long waits for care due to the hospital triage system. A walk-in clinic provides middle ground by addressing patient needs that require prompt care but do not constitute a true medical emergency.
Symptoms appropriate for evaluation and treatment at a walk-in clinic or urgent care include:
● Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
● Abdominal pain
● Fever without the presence of a rash
● Strains, sprains, or minor occupational injuries
● Small lacerations that require stitching
In general, urgent cares serve as a back-up to your primary care provider. If you have familiar symptoms of a recurring illness – such as an ear infection or UTI – an urgent care can help when your primary care physician is not available.
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When Should I Go to the Emergency Room?
The emergency room is best reserved for medical conditions that present a true threat to patient health or safety. Symptoms that require evaluation and treatment in an emergency room include:
● Chest pain, especially when accompanied by shortness of breath
● Slurred speech or loss of balance
● One-sided weakness or numbness
● Serious or large surface area burns
● Injuries to the head or eyes
● Fever accompanied by a rash
● Altered mental status
● Large broken bones (hands, fingers, feet and toes are fine for an urgent care)
● Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy
● Severe flu-like symptoms
Knowing when to go to an emergency room and when to utilize a walk-in clinic can save you time, money, and frustration.
In general, many people use an emergency room because they are unaware a better option is available. When using an emergency room for a minor illness, you could be responsible for expensive co-pays.
A walk-in clinic can fill the gap between your primary care provider and serves as an excellent choice for minor illnesses and injuries. Visit out Urgent Care Services page for more information.
Better Providers. Better Care.
Learn why patients have come to trust Premier Urgent Care. Visit https://premierucchicago.com.