If you need emergency medical care, you may be wondering whether you need to go to the emergency room or urgent care. It is common for injuries and illnesses to appear when you least expect. The answer to whether you need to go to Westminster urgent care or the emergency room is not always clear. However, a few basic principles apply.
What is the Difference?
Both the emergency room and urgent care are appropriate options when you need immediate medical attention. The main difference is that urgent care fills an important gap when you are ill or injured and need help immediately. Urgent care is more appropriate than an emergency room when your injury or illness is one that you would normally address with a primary care physician.
The emergency room of a hospital is always open. It is suitable for more complex and serious problems. The emergency room deals with limb and life-threatening situations including traumatic accident injuries and heart attack.
You should go to the emergency room for the following problems:
- Serious burns
- Broken bones
- Numbness on one side
- Difficulty breathing or chest pain
- Concussion or confusion
- Vaginal bleeding if you are pregnant
- Slurred speech
- Dizziness or fainting
- Bleeding that you cannot stop
- Facial lacerations
- Big cuts that need stitches
If you believe that your problem is serious, you should go to the emergency room immediately.
Urgent care is not the same as emergency care. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, patients who went to the emergency room were not always admitted. A more appropriate option for them is to go to urgent care. You should go to urgent care for the following problems:
- Fever with no rash
- Small cuts that may need stitches
- Strains and sprains
- Persistent vomiting and diarrhea
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Moderate flu-like symptoms
It is, however, important to know that urgent care is not an alternative to your primary care doctors. However, the clinics are a resource that comes in handy when you need help fast but cannot get it from your primary care doctor.
There are different types of urgent care clinics and the one you choose should match your needs. A few practical things to consider when choosing an urgent care clinic include:
- Find out if their hours of operation match your needs
- Determine whether they accept your insurance
- Find out if they can provide your medical records to your primary care provider
- Find out if their location works for you
- Determine if they can perform the specific test, service, or treatment you need
- Find out if the clinic allows advance bookings
If you are ill or injured after your doctor’s working hours, you have two options. You may go to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic. Making the right choice between the two does not need to be difficult. The main difference is that an emergency room is appropriate for life or limb-threatening conditions. On the other hand, urgent care clinics are appropriate for serious but not life-threatening conditions.
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