Choosing between an Emergency Room (ER) visit or an Urgent Care visit can impact a patient in several ways. A few simple factors can help make the right decision. Urgent Care is Cost-Conscious
Simply put, Emergency rooms can handle trauma, x-rays, surgical procedures, and other life threatening situations, while Urgent Care is equipped to handle non-life threatening situations that can typically be treated at your local doctor’s office.
Most Urgent Care centers are open late and on weekends and are staffed with doctors and nurses who have access to x-ray and a lab onsite.
Vibrant Health Family Clinics are on a mission to help educate people between the differences and benefits of each type of care and have created a simple comparison chart based on symptoms and illnesses (FAQs).
Comparing Emergency Care to Urgent Care in River Falls
Dr. Daniel Zimmerman is the Director of Urgent Care at Vibrant Health Family Clinics and notes that, “First and foremost, if you are experiencing a life threatening event, your first cause of action should be to call 9-1-1.” Dr. Zimmerman points out events that require an Emergency Room visit, such as dealing with major medical trauma.
Defining major medical traumas can be difficult, but generally include any event that could cause the loss of life, limb, or eyesight. Examples of illnesses and issues that call for emergency room care, rather than Urgent Care:
- Heart attacks or chest pain
- Stroke or stroke symptoms
- Unconscious patients
- Serious accidents
- Uncontrollable bleeding
- Head trauma
- Severe abdominal pain
People experiencing one or more of these problems should call 9-1-1 immediately, or proceed to the nearest emergency room. Insurance providers cover ER visits for any problem that could cause death, loss of limb, or loss of eyesight.
Also, if you are going into labor, you should head to the nearest hospital for the appropriate care. Pregnant women should consult with their obstetrician and general practitioner for assistance in planning a birthing location and plan.
While the Emergency Room can help care for any medical situation, it often comes at a steep price. The ER costs an average of three times more than a visit to the urgent care. In a non-life threatening situation, you can most likely be treated at an Urgent Care facility.
Urgent medical conditions are ones that are not considered emergencies but still require care within 24 hours.
Conditions best treated at Urgent Care
- Skin rashes and infections
- Accidents and falls
- Asthma/shortness of breath
- Flu or fever and cold/sinus
- Joint and muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Ear aches
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
- Simple fractures
- Cuts and burns
Urgent Care Healthcare Providers can assist with admissions to an Emergency Room or hospital if needed.
Additionally, Dr. Zimmerman suggests that the wait in an ER can be almost three times the amount of that of an Urgent Care facility.
“We strive to get our Urgent Care patients admitted, treated, and processed within one hour. Going to an Emergency room with less than life-threatening symptoms could have you waiting many more hours, because the ER staff will be focused on the most serious injuries and illnesses first,” said Zimmerman.