Is it Urgent, or an Emergency?

Walk in health clinic

There are injuries and ailments that can be tackled using at-home first aid, and there are those that require a trip to the emergency room. Urgent care is the medium between the two — walk in health clinics for urgent care are designed to handle illnesses or injuries that require immediate professional treatment, but are not quite ER-level.

When faced with a medical situation, one must properly assess whether it is an urgent or emergency situation. The distinction is highly important, as going to the ER for an urgent care situation and vice versa can prolong the treatment process because the appropriate service is not being utilized/provided for the situation.

129.8 million people visit the emergency room annually, but many of those could have easily been seen in an urgent care walk in clinic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On average, these patients also would have saved nearly $800 and three hours if they had visited the appropriate center for their medical situation.

Using the following to help decide if your situation is an emergency or an urgent one can help save a great deal of time and finances in the long run.

Examples of Urgent versus Emergency ailments/injuries:

Urgent Care (for injuries and illnesses that don’t appear to be life-threatening, but cannot wait until the next day for a primary care visit):
-Painful urination
-Persistent diarrhea
-Sever sore throat
-Fever without rash
-Minor trauma, such as a common sprain

Emergency (for injuries and illnesses that are 100% life-threatening):
-Persistent shortness of breath/wheezing
-Persistent chest pain
-Sudden heart palpitations
-Severe cold or flu symptoms
-High fevers or fevers with rash
-Sudden, sever headache
-Severe pain (particularly in the abdomen)
-Serious burns
-Intestinal bleeding
-Head and eye injuries/trauma
-Serious burns
-Loss of vision
-Weakness or paralysis

If ever in doubt, you should not hesitate to call 911 for assistance if the situation does not seem minor.

There are certain steps that can be taken to assist the process, whether the treatment is being done through urgent care or the ER. These include:

-Keep a list of your medications handy (both over-the-counter and prescription)
Medications that you take or have taken in the past can interact with the treatment that the doctors choose to use with you.

-Keep a list of allergies, especially allergies to any medications, available
Allergies to medications can also impact the course of treatment given to you

-Keep a record of any previous invasive medical procedures and surgeries, the dates they were done and the names of the physician or surgeon who treated you.
Certain areas of the body that have been operated on can be impacted by certain treatment courses (namely, the proper diagnosis), so your physicians must be aware of this.

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