Knowing the difference between the Emergency Room and Urgent Care Center is important for your health and for your medical benefits.
An Emergency Room exists to help people when they suffer a major, traumatic, life-threatening event, like a heart attack, stroke or accident. Itís not appropriate to visit an ER for less-serious reasons.
Unfortunately, many people donít use ERs properly. Only a small proportions of ER visits are true emergencies.
When to use the ER
Emergency Rooms have the staff and equipment that are needed to handle situations
that immediately threaten peopleís lives and long-term health.
Some examples of conditions that should be treated in an ER include:
- Spinal injuries
- Severe head injury
- Large open wounds or bleeding that wonít stop
- Major burns
- Severe abdominal pain
- Sudden dizziness or weakness
- Sudden loss of coordination or balance
- Sudden blurred vision or loss of vision
- Severe or sudden chest pain
- Whenever you suspect a heart attack or stroke
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
When to use Urgent Care
Urgent care situations are less severe. They involve the kinds of problems that your primary care physician can treat in his/her office.
If you have a sore throat or cough, a bad cold, back pain or other basic ailments, donít go to ER.
A simple phone call to your physicianís office will take the guesswork out of deciding between Urgent Care or ER.
If your doctor canít see you right away, you might be referred to the nearest Urgent Care facility.