When should you go to the Emergency Room?

Knowing where to seek treatment and the differences between primary care, urgent care and emergency care could potentially save your life.

Imagine one of these scenarios - You wake wake up in the middle of the night with mild abdominal pain. You trip while carrying boxes up the stair and can no longer put weight on your ankle. Your child wakes up with a small fever. What do you do? Do you visit your local emergency room? Do you head to an urgent care facility? Do you wait to see a primary care provider? It is important to know what facility to go to for specific health events. 

Primary Care- Comprehensive and continuous care

  • Non-life threatening allergic reactions
  • Minor burns or injuries
  • Mild asthma
  • Rashes or other skin irritations
  • Back pain 

Urgent Care- Immediate medical attention for common illnesses

  • Sprains, broken bones and fractures needing X-ray
  • Coughs, colds and sore throats
  • Urinary pain
  • Non- life- threatening allergic reaction
  • Fever or flu-like symptoms
  • Rashes or other skin irritations 

Emergency Care- Treatment for severe and life-threatening conditions

  • Chest pain
  • Severe asthma attack/difficulty breathing
  • Severe head trauma
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe dehydration

You may be thinking, why go to an urgent care when I know an emergency room can treat my symptoms too? Here are some reasons why:

Space. These facilities help unclog ERs. Too often emergency rooms experience high wait times because they are full of those who go there for conditions that aren't necessarily emergencies. Urgent care facilities provide another place for people to receive quality care!

Price. It is cost effective to avoid the emergency room if you are not having an active emergency. Establishing regular visits with a primary care provider is not only cost effective, but it also allows you to build a long-term relationship with healthcare provider. Urgent care facilities offer check ups and medical care that could cut hundreds of dollars off the cost of care.

RELATED: Have you Established a Primary Care Provider?

Speed. You may receive care faster by going to an urgent care facility over the emergency room. The average visit lasts under an hour, whereas ER wait times can be an hour or more, not including treatment.

The key thing to remember is the severity of the health problem. If the condition is life-threatening, go to an emergency room immediately. If the condition is a minor illness or injury, take advantage of the convenience and affordability your local Urgent Care has to offer.