When To Go To An Urgent Care vs. The Emergency Room

The advent of more urgent care centers has been a boon not only for busy hospital emergency rooms but for patients as well. It relieves the emergency room from seeing less than serious conditions, and it provides patients a more timely diagnosis and treatment. The question remains of when to go to an urgent care vs. the emergency room.

What Are The Real Differences? neck down doctor holding out hand to greet patient

The main differences between an ER and an urgent care center involve: the services provided, the wait time, and the cost.

If you are ill, consider these three before you decide where to go. The most important one is, of course, the services. Are you critical? Are you in severe pain? Are your symptoms life-threatening? Those questions should determine your decision. Let’s get more specific.

What Is A True Emergency?

The purpose of a hospital emergency room is to save lives. With the increase in urgent care facilities, only the severe cases should go to an ER unless you have no choice. Lots of Americans visit the emergency room and many of those visits are unnecessary. The CDC tells us that 30% of ER visits are non-urgent.

At a hospital ER you will be triaged, meaning a nurse will determine how urgent the urgency really is. That will dictate how long you will wait.

If you are having a heart attack or a stroke, it is imperative you get immediate care, so call 911 or go directly to an ER.

Some other situations that necessitate an ER visit include: seizures, a high fever that won’t break, injury to the neck or spine, poisoning, head injury, a deep wound, drug overdose, burns, electric shock, bleeding that won’t stop, broken bone with punctured skin, vomiting blood, unconsciousness, severe allergic reaction, breathing problems.

Urgent Care Visits

A visit at Premier Health Network in Chicago is recommended when you cannot get an appointment with your family doctor, and your symptoms are non-life threatening.

Occasions and symptoms include: fever and colds, cough and sore throat, cuts that require stitches, earaches, UTI, diarrhea and stomach pain, flu symptoms, minor burns, dehydration, sprains and strains, small cuts, a mild asthma attack, and animal bites, plus others.

If the urgent care provider thinks your symptoms are more serious, they will direct you to the ER.

If you, or someone you love, is ill or has a minor injury, don’t wait in an emergency room for hours.

Contact Premier Health Network at (773) 891-2890, or visit us today.