Urgent Care or Emergency Care?
When to go to an Urgent Care and when to go to an Emergency Room
Urgent Care vs Emergency Care
It’s after hours, your doctor’s office is closed, and you or your family member are in pain. You decide to try an wait it out until tomorrow morning (or maybe Monday morning) but the pain gets worse and now you have a fever. Is this an emergency? Is it an urgent care issue? Should you go to a hospital? a clinic?
An emergency is a condition that cannot wait to be treated which can lead to serious complications if ignored. An urgency is a condition, while perhaps uncomfortable, can safely wait to be treated in a day or two.
What’s the Difference?
Urgent Care clinics can take care of a wide range of minor complaints from colds and sore throats to minor cuts, bumps, and bruises. However, most urgent cares lack advanced imaging technologies such as CT scan or Ultrasound which are necessary to diagnose more serious problems such as a threatened miscarriage, head trauma, or appendicitis, to name just a few. Also, Urgent Care clinics usually aren’t staffed by Emergency Medicine Residency-Trained Physicians; their staff are competent at what they do, but they likely don’t have the experience to manage many serious emergencies and will just call 911 for help.
Reasons to Go to an Emergency Room
- Persistent Chest Pain – especially if it is associated with any other symptoms such as shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, sweating, or radiation into your arm, back, or neck.
- Difficulty Breathing
- Severe Pain – especially if it involves the chest, head, or abdomen
- New Weakness, Numbness, Clumsiness, or Confusion – these can all be signs of a stroke
- Sudden Headache – this can indicated a ruptured blood vessel
- Fever – particularly in very young children (under 3 months), the elderly, or in patients with suppressed immune systems
- Palpitations or Abnormal Heart Rhythms
- Seizures – especially first time seizures or seizures that last longer than usual
- Bleeding or Pain During Pregnancy – there are many serious conditions that can occur during pregnancy that must be evaluated immediately
- Blood in Vomit or Stool or Dark-Colored Stools
- Head Injuries / Concussions
- Testicular Pain or Swelling
- Broken Bones or Dislocated Joints
- Deep Cuts That Require Stitches
- Eye Emergencies – including foreign bodies, pain, loss of vision
- Serious Burns
- Falls That Occur While Taking Blood Thinners
- Persistent or Severe Vomiting or Diarrhea
- Severe Flu or Cold Symptoms (Risk for Pneumonia)
Why Code 3 ER & Urgent Care?
Code 3 is transparent about its pricing. After providing you with a free medical screening exam, our doctors will let you know if the condition you are experiencing is an emergency or an urgent care issue. While we do run an urgent care at this location, we may be able to offer you a prompt pay pathway to reduce your bill if you elect to stay in the ER to treat your urgent care issue. We never want anyone to receive a huge bill for what amounts to a minor care problem.
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