When you’re sick or injured, the last thing you want to do is worry about where to go for treatment. If your symptoms aren’t severe, you may be able to simply make an appointment with your primary care physician. However, this is often not the best option for immediate medical care.
Doctor’s offices usually fill up fast, and you may not be able to get an appointment for a few days. When you need treatment fast, your best choices are usually an urgent care center or the closest emergency room. Knowing the difference between the two will help you quickly decide on the best course of action.
Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care Center
In the simplest terms, hospital emergency rooms are for treating life-threatening injuries and illnesses. In a situation that is clearly an emergency, don’t hesitate call 911 or go directly to the closest emergency room. Failing to do so can have catastrophic results.
Urgent care centers, on the other hand, are designed to treat non-life-threatening medical issues. If you have symptoms that could typically be treated by your doctor, but you prefer immediate medical care, an urgent care center is your best bet.
Recognizing Emergency Situations
Understanding what constitutes a medical emergency is the key to making good decisions about your medical care. Go to the hospital emergency room if you’re suffering from any of the following:
- Heart attack symptoms
- Stroke symptoms
- Uncontrollable bleeding
- Head injuries
- Debilitating headache
- Difficulty breathing
- Sudden paralysis
- High fever
- Extreme dehydration
- Severe abdominal pain
- Slurred speech
- Severe burns, wounds, cuts, injury or trauma
- Visibly broken bones, fractures, or dislocation
Note that this list is not exhaustive. Always use your judgment. If in doubt, remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Cost of Emergency Room Care
If your symptoms aren’t life-threatening, you may want to do your bank account a favor and skip the emergency room.
The cost of emergency room visits has skyrocketed in recent years. Depending on your health insurance coverage, a single visit can set you back anywhere from $50 to over $3,000. If you need a surgical procedure or other critical care while you are there, you could be looking at a bill closer to $20,000!
Immediate Medical Care for Non-Emergency Situations
When you need immediate medical care for non-life-threatening conditions, an urgent care center is usually your best option. Treatment is often far less expensive than an emergency room visit, and the wait times are usually much shorter.
Some of the most common ailments treated at urgent care include:
- Cold and flu
- Mild fever
- Sore throat
- Ear infection
- Bladder infection
- Pink eye
- Animal or insect bites
- Minor injuries, burns, and wounds
- Urinary tract infection
Urgent care centers usually also provide x-rays, lab tests, vaccinations, and physicals for work and school.
Coastal Urgent Care is Here to Help
Avoid waiting days to see your doctor or overpaying for unnecessary emergency room visits. Next time you need convenient, quality healthcare, look no further than Coastal Urgent Care.