October 20, 2022

Know When to Go to the ER, Urgent Care, or Your Primary Doctor

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It’s estimated that around 30% of visits to the emergency room (ER) are deemed unnecessary, which is not only takes up space and resources for those who need the ER setting, but it can be extremely costly for the patient as well.

Of course, an ER visit should be made in a true emergency, but it’s important to know when something can be addressed at an urgent care facility or even waiting to make an appointment with your primary care physician.

If you’re not familiar, an urgent care facility is a same-day clinic that takes people first-come, first-served without an appointment, but the scope of what they can treat may be limited.

CHC has a list of situations that require ER treatment, can be handled at an urgent care location, or your family doctor.

When to Go to the Emergency Room

Any serious situation that may be life-threatening requires a visit to the emergency room. These include:

  • Chest pains or other signs of a heart attack
  • Numbness, weakness in limbs, or slurred speech (signs of a stroke)
  • Bleeding that cannot be controlled or stopped
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Poisoning or overdose
  • A broken bone that has shifted out of place
  • Major trauma, including a person being unconscious

When to Go to an Urgent Care Facility

  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Head or eye injury
  • Minor sports injuries
  • Suspected broken bone that’s not shifted out of place
  • Allergic reaction
  • Minor burns
  • Cut requiring stitches
  • Upper respiratory ailment (cold or flu symptoms)
  • Animal bite/reaction to insect bite

When to Visit Your Primary Care Physician

  • Preventative care (checkups and physicals)
  • Minor illnesses like flu-like symptoms, sore throat, and earache that aren’t as bothersome
  • Flu shots and other vaccines
  • Routine tests

Most services that an urgent care can provide can be done at your regular doctor’s office as well, so use discretion over whether immediate treatment is necessary or if it can wait a day to be seen by your doctor.

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