Urgent Care Clinic vs. Emergency Room—How to Choose the Right One for Your Needs
Urgent care clinics started popping up across the United States in the 1970s as a convenient and affordable alternative to emergency room care. By the 1990s, these walk-in clinics were serving a vital need in many communities where emergency rooms were overrun with patients seeking treatment for common ailments in a medical setting designed to treat life-threatening health conditions. This overwhelming demand for services helped drive up the cost of ER care even further and also led to long lines, with many patients literally spending hours in the waiting room before seeing a doctor.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and the neighborhood urgent care clinic continues to provide a valuable option for individuals and families in need of fast—but not emergency—health care. However, when an illness or injury strikes, how do you know whether to head to the urgent care clinic or the ER? Ouch Urgent Care is pleased to provide you with some guidelines to help you decide.
When to Go to the ER
Emergency rooms are designed to treat health conditions that threaten life or limb and require on-the-spot medical intervention. The professionals who work there often have special training, and the facilities are set up for advanced-level treatment, including surgery.
It’s not always easy to determine whether you or a loved one is experiencing a true medical emergency, and many experts suggest you trust your instincts—if you think you or your child might require advanced-level treatment, choose the ER. Here are some examples of medical conditions that are best evaluated in an ER setting:
- Chest pain, breathing difficulty, and other symptoms of a heart attack
- Sudden slurred speech and mental confusion
- Serious injuries incurred during a car accident or fall
- Severe burns
If you think you or your loved one is experiencing a heart attack or stroke, it’s best to call 911 because paramedics can often begin life-saving treatment in the ambulance on the way to the ER.
When to Visit the Urgent Care Clinic
A recent study by the National Center for Health Statistics found that nearly 80% of adults who visited an ER in a given year said they did so because they had no access to other health care providers. Nearly half said their regular doctor’s office was closed when they needed care. These study results affirm the role of community-based urgent care clinics as a crucial alternative to the ER.
There are far too many nonemergency health conditions that are commonly treated in today’s urgent care centers to list here. As a rule of thumb, when an illness or injury occurs, you should consider whether you’d be comfortable seeking treatment at your primary care doctor’s office if you could get an appointment. If you would, then urgent care services are probably right for you.
If you’re located in St. Johns, Carson City, or one of the surrounding communities in Michigan, you can feel confident turning to Ouch Urgent Care when you need nonemergency health care on short notice. Our physician-led, highly qualified medical team treats patients of all ages, including infants, and we’re open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Our wait times are short, and we also offer a convenient online check-in service for those who want to save their place in line before they arrive.
We also offer telemedicine services. For many types of illnesses, you can consult virtually with one of our medical practitioners using your video-enabled smartphone or mobile device.
We accept many major insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, and we offer affordable rates to our patients who are paying out of pocket. Contact Ouch Urgent Care today for more information.