To go urgent care or not to go? Well, that’s a good question.
Patient confusion over when and where to seek the appropriate medical care has been a growing concern for emergency room doctors across the country. In fact, an online poll conducted just last year by the American College of Emergency Physicians revealed that a whopping 75% of emergency room doctors had concerns that patients with true or life threatening medical emergencies would seek treatment an urgent care medical clinic first instead of going to an emergency room. While this may seem like an honest, simple mistake, this error could mean the difference between life and death, as every second counts in terms of medical emergencies.
While urgent care medical clinics have continued to increase the both range and level of care they provide, they are not designed to substitute emergency medical care in anyway. Urgent care clinics provide affordable, convenient, and quality health care services for acutely arising conditions that are non-life threatening but yet still require immediate medical attention. For example, minor trauma such as a sprain or strain can easily be treated at an urgent care clinic.
On the other hand, while hospital emergency departments are equipped to treat many of the same conditions as urgent care centers, they are best reserved for true medical emergencies such as head trauma, severe burns, blood loss, chest pain, numbness, shortness of breath, or difficulty speaking. Keep in mind that if you or someone you know has an underlying medical condition such as heart disease or diabetes may complicate seemingly harmless illnesses such as the common cold. In these cases, it may best to err on the side of caution and go directly to a hospital emergency department.
However, maintaining open communication with primary care physician may help you determine what to do in the event you experience a true medical emergency and when and where to seek the appropriate care.