Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room

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Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room

When you are facing a sudden medical issue, your first inclination may be to call 911 or jump in the car and head straight to the hospital emergency room. However, often an urgent care center is the more feasible and economically viable choice. It is important to know the difference between each of these facilities and the best one to visit whenever you or a loved one requires immediate medical care.

Urgent care center capabilities

Many people understand the nature of an emergency room setting and the wide range of medical care treatments and services they will provide. Emergency rooms are required under federal law to provide care for everyone, regardless of ability to pay. However, if you have rarely or never visited an urgent care center you may be unfamiliar with the range of medical conditions they are able to evaluate and treat.

There are more than 9000 urgent care centers throughout the U.S. These centers require no previously scheduled appointment and are generally open seven days a week, often until 9 PM or even later. These clinics are set up to treat patients with non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

At an urgent care center, often there is at least one medical doctor on staff in addition to physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. These facilities also house various types of diagnostic equipment such as ultrasound and x-ray machines that enable medical professionals to diagnose and treat numerous types of non-life-threatening conditions. Some of the medical conditions a typical urgent care center can treat include:

  • Broken bones
  • Minor coughs, sore throats, and fevers
  • Scrapes and cuts requiring stitches
  • Bruises and bumps
  • Sprains and strains
  • Back pain
  • Strep throat
  • Infections
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Rashes
  • Mild asthma
  • Urinary tract infections

Benefits of visiting an urgent care center

If the medical issue at hand does not threaten life or limb, visiting an urgent care center is generally recommended if you do not have or are unable to quickly get an appointment with your regular physician. Urgent care centers lessen the load on emergency room personnel who are trained to serve the needs of patients facing immediate and dire health consequences.

Additional benefits patients receive by visiting an urgent care center include:

  • No prescheduled appointment required. These centers are ideal if you have an urgent medical need that occurs before or after regular office hours.
  • Faster service. If you visit the ER with a non-emergency health issue such as an ankle sprain, someone else experiencing reading difficulties or heart palpitations is going to receive care for you do. At an urgent care center, you will not have to wait in line behind patients with emergency life-threatening conditions.
  • Less expensive. Visiting the emergency room, even if you have health insurance, can become very expensive, fast. Health insurance covers the services offered at an urgent care clinic. This makes it a much lower cost option for non-life-threatening medical concerns.

When is a trip to the emergency room necessary?

You may be wondering when it is worthwhile to visit the ER. If you or a loved one requires potentially life-saving emergency care or advanced treatment, including surgery, the best place to visit is the emergency room. Urgent care centers are not capable of providing solutions for these serious medical issues. The types of symptoms that are properly treated at an emergency room rather than an urgent care center include:

  • Severe burns
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sudden fainting or dizziness
  • Going unconscious after a head injury
  • Severe chest, back, or abdominal pain
  • Persistent or severe vomiting or diarrhea
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Dislocated joint
  • Difficulty speaking or breathing
  • Severe, deep cuts (particularly on the face)
  • Traumatic eye injury
  • Changes in mental state
  • Sudden, severe headaches
  • Vomiting or coughing up blood

At Banks and Jones, our Knoxville personal injury attorneys are ready to fight on your behalf against the most difficult legal challenges you may be facing. We are here to help you secure any compensation you are owed for injuries you suffered due to another party’s negligence. To arrange a free review and discussion about your case, give us a call today at 865-546-2141 or complete our contact form.




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