When should you go to urgent care vs ER?
Urgent care is an efficient and effective way to get the medical attention you need when you are not able to visit your doctor. Call us today to book an appointment so that we can help look after your urgent care medical needs. We accept walk-ins in El Cajon, CA and we are open 7 days a week.
Table of Contents:
When is it best to go to urgent care?
When should you avoid going to an emergency room?
What’s the difference between urgent care and emergency care?
Why should you go to the emergency room?
Urgent care is able to treat patients with minor to moderate illnesses and injuries in a quick, convenient and cost-effective manner to any patient that books an appointment or arrives on a walk-in basis.
Patients are seen in the order in which they arrive so that they are able to be processed quickly.
For life-threatening injuries and illnesses, or complex medical conditions, a hospital emergency room is still the best place to go as they have access to any and all diagnostic and life-saving equipment, as well as access to a wide range of doctors with different areas of specialization.
For everything else that requires medical care and attention within a 24-hour window, including cuts, broken bones, infections, sore throats, and a whole long list of other injuries and illnesses, urgent care is going to be your best option.
As much as possible, the emergency room should be reserved for patients experiencing emergencies or that have medical issues that require specialized treatment.
That’s not to say they aren’t able to treat other illnesses, injuries or medical issues, there are just better options out there for treatment of these conditions.
The ER typically sees their patients based on the severity of their symptoms, with the direst cases being taken care of first.
This means that patients who have minor symptoms can end up sitting in the waiting room for several hours without being seen.
Minor conditions such as sprained joints, sore throats, ear infections, coughs and colds, surface cuts and scrapes, and STD testing, as examples, can all be diagnosed and treated through a walk-in clinic or urgent care, depending on the severity of the symptoms.
Sometimes it is unavoidable to go to an emergency room for minor to moderate issues due to the proximity of medical care when it is needed, patients just need to expect to wait longer and also to pay more for their visit.
The difference between receiving medical care through urgent care or as an emergency will depend on the severity and complexity of the condition being treated.
Urgent care can treat most illnesses and injuries that are not considered to be life-threatening.
However, the emergency room will be the best bet for conditions that may require complex treatment or extensive diagnostic testing.
Complex bone fractures or fractures that puncture the skin, signs of a stroke or heart attack, anaphylaxis from an allergy attack, severe heat stroke, and other medical emergencies need to be treated through an emergency room.
The ER will have access to any and all diagnostic testing equipment, as well as an extensive staff of surgeons and specialized doctors either on hand or on call.
An urgent care will have a highly trained staff of doctors on hand, many of the general practitioners who are able to diagnose and treat a broad spectrum of medical issues, as well as some diagnostic testing equipment such as x-rays and lab services.
In order to provide the best and fastest treatment when minutes or seconds can mean the difference between life and death, the emergency room should be reserved for true, life-threatening medical emergencies or complicated treatment due to pre-existing conditions.
Symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, anaphylaxis, fractures that puncture the skin, severe head injuries, potential loss of a limb, and complex fractures with multiple breaks in the bone are examples of some of the instances where a visit to the emergency room is the right move to make.
Calling 911 will have an ambulance brought to you immediately so that life-saving treatment can be performed while in transit to the hospital, as well as ensuring you get immediately processed upon arrival at the hospital.
For most other conditions requiring medical attention quickly, but not with the intensity of life-saving treatment, patients can seek out care through urgent care such as East County Urgent Care. We serve patients from El Cajon CA, Wells Park CA, Alpine CA, Rancho San Diego CA, Hillsdale CA, Santee CA, and Jamul CA.
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