Know Where to Go: ER vs. Urgent Care

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Know Where to Go: ER vs. Urgent Care


Knowing whether you should be examined in an emergency room or urgent care center can save you precious time and money, but how do you know where to go?

Emergency Room

As a general rule of thumb, visits to the emergency room should be reserved for life-threatening conditions, such as:

• Signs or symptoms of heart attack or stroke
• Serious head, neck or back injuries
• Loss of limb or broken bone protruding from skin
• Unconsciousness
• Severe bleeding
• Deep wounds
• Extreme difficulty in breathing
• Seizures or convulsions

Urgent Care Centers

On the other hand, urgent care centers are useful for conditions that need immediate care but are not serious enough for the emergency room. Their main purpose is to provide the type of care you could otherwise expect to receive from your primary care physician, but in an after-hours setting. They are ideal for those times where you need medical assistance but cannot wait to get in to see your regular doctor. Some examples of what urgent care centers can treat include:

• Fever, sore throat and coughing
• Vomiting or diarrhea
• Sprains or possible broken bones
• Minor injuries and burns

If you have a non-life-threatening illness or injury, choosing an urgent care center over the emergency room generally will allow you to get treatment faster. In an emergency room, the patients with the most severe cases get treated first. That means if you’re waiting for more basic medical care, you could be in for a long wait while others are seen in front of you. Urgent care centers work more like regular doctor’s offices where patients are seen in the order they arrive, so if you have a minor illness or injury, you’ll likely be seen quicker than you would in the emergency room.

Find the urgent care center nearest you by visiting lakeafterhours.com or lsuhealthbr.org.

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