At first mention, going to urgent care and going to the emergency room sound like the same thing. However, emergency rooms and urgent care clinics are designed to help completely different medical emergencies.
While emergency rooms have been around since the early 20th century when it was developed by Arnold Griswold, urgent care clinics have only been around since the 1970’s. Despite urgent care being a relatively new resource for those with a medical emergency, its popularity has surged over the past few years. According to the Urgent Care Association of America\’s 2016 Benchmarking Report, there are 7,357 urgent care centers in the United States. This marks an increase from 2015\’s count of 6,707.
Having options to treat any medical emergency that may happen to you or your family is relieving, however, most people don’t know where or when to seek emergency care at either of these facilities
There are certain times when it is much more appropriate to seek out medical treatment at the ER and there are times when a short trip to the local urgent care clinic would suffice. Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding between receiving treatment from an urgent care clinic or the ER:
When to Go to Urgent Care
According to Becker\’s Hospital Review, only 3% of patients who come to an urgent care center need to be diverted to an emergency department, while 44% to 65% of all ER episodes could have been treated at urgent care locations. Typically the best scenarios to visit an urgent care center are those that are non-life threatening.
According to the Urgent Care Association of America’s 2016 Benchmarking Report, the most common illnesses diagnosed were:
- Upper respiratory infections
- Sinus infections
- Acute pharyngitis
- Acute Bronchitis
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulties
- Severe wounds or broken bones
There are many 24 hour walk in clinics available around the country that can diagnose and prescribe something to help you with minor medical emergencies. Many of these clinics are low cost and have convenient wait times.
When To Go To The ER
The ER is designed to help with major or life-threatening medical emergencies. You should go straight to the nearest emergency room if you are experiencing:
Emergency clinics will have the widest arrangement of specialists to treat your medical emergency and will be able to provide overnight accommodations should the situation call for it.
Obviously, you never want yourself or one of your family members to be in a medical emergency situation, but if the time comes, it is important to know what your resources you have available and where to go to be able to provide the quickest relief and recovery from the pain.