Is it an Emergency? How to Know if You Should Go to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care

Is it an Emergency? How to Know if You Should Go to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care

If you’re having symptoms that might be related to a heart attack, stroke, or serious accident, you’re probably wondering which hospital to go to – urgent care or the emergency room? Both are designed to treat serious health problems, so the answer isn’t always clear. Here are three things you should consider when deciding where to seek treatment.

What is Urgent Care?
An urgent care clinic is a walk-in facility designed to treat non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses. If your injury or illness isn’t severe enough for an emergency room (ER) but you don’t have a primary doctor, consider visiting urgent care. These clinics often offer extended hours—and are often staffed by experienced physicians, nurses and medical professionals.

When to go to the emergency room
If your symptoms are life-threatening, call 9-1-1. If you have what seems like a serious injury, seek treatment right away at a hospital emergency room. Otherwise, you’re probably best served by going to your doctor’s office during business hours. And don’t hesitate to contact 911 in case of emergencies; however, keep in mind that not all medical situations require immediate medical attention.

What conditions require immediate medical attention
There’s no denying that all health problems are not created equal—and some of them require immediate attention, such as a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or severe burns. If you’ve been in a serious accident and suffered trauma, such as a car crash, and aren’t sure whether you should go to urgent care or an emergency room, consult your doctor. Also talk to your physician if any of these symptoms persist for longer than 24 hours.

Emergency vs. Urgent care
A trip to urgent care can be much more affordable than a trip to a hospital emergency room, but with both options, you want to ensure that you go when it’s truly urgent. This is where a doctor’s expertise comes into play. Ask your doctor what makes sense for your situation—and then follow his or her advice.