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When to Choose Urgent Care Instead of the ER

Doctor Looking at Patient's eyes

People who suddenly develop a sickness or injury often feel compelled to go to an emergency room for treatment. However, not all injuries or illnesses require emergency care. Unfortunately, individuals with less severe problems may cause an emergency room to become very busy, delaying care for those who do experience emergencies. In many instances, urgent care may be the best choice.

Urgent care centers serve as an excellent alternative for treatment when the injury or illness requires immediate care but not emergency treatment. Understanding the differences between emergency injuries and urgent problems minimizes emergency room issues and helps an individual receive proper care from the best source.

Situations That Require Urgent Care Visits

Urgent care centers are designed to take care of immediate problems but not emergencies. Many people have a hard time deciding whether their health problem is an emergency or something that an urgent care center can manage.

As a result, individuals interested in visiting an urgent care center need to fully understand what issues are best addressed at one of these centers. The following problems should be taken care of at an urgent care center and not an emergency room:

Falls without serious injuries – If you fall and suffer a cut, a severe bruise, or a strain, an urgent care center is an excellent place to visit.
 More serious injuries – including potential concussions – may need emergency care. 
Mild to moderate asthma issues – Asthma attacks can be a scary situation but may require only urgent care. Visit an emergency room for asthma only if the person cannot breathe or has a history of life-threatening asthma attacks. 
   Eye irritation – When suffering from eye irritation – including getting dirt or dust on the cornea – urgent care is the best care choice.
 However, someone who gets chemicals or dangerous industrial materials in their eyes should visit an emergency room. 
Fever or flu – Emergency rooms do provide individuals with the flu a simple place to get treatment. However, individuals with the flu could contaminate others in the emergency room suffering from serious problems. Typically, a flu-based visit to the ER is necessary only when symptoms are particularly dangerous.
Minor broken bones – If you think you may have a broken bone, such as in toe or arm, then such minor fractures can be treated in an urgent care center. Visiting an emergency room for this problem is excessive, though emergency care may be necessary for clearly broken legs, arms, and so forth. If you injure your arm or leg and then can’t move your fingers or toes, then head to the ER.

Urgent care also helps with severe sore throats, ankle sprains, minor cuts that need stitches, vomiting, injuries necessitating x-rays, skin rashes, laboratory tests, urinary tract infections, dehydration, and diarrhea.

Steps to Take When Visiting an Urgent Care Center

Though urgent care injuries require immediate care, injured individuals still have time to prepare before visiting a center. The following steps help educate a person on the benefits of a specific urgent care center and create a more efficient visit:

  •  Make sure that your insurance covers urgent care visits – usually, a small co-pay is necessary
  •  Research the urgent care center’s reputation before visiting
  •  Ask about their prescription transfer services, as some urgent care centers allow such transfers, which can decrease your bill
  •  Find someone who can drive you to and from the urgent care center
  •  Gather all necessary medical information, including immunization history

If you suffer from an injury that requires urgent care, contact us at PDQ Urgent Care & More to get the help you need. Our professionals will work with you and your insurance company to find the best treatment for whatever health problem affects you.

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