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Serving the Central Ohio Area
Pickerington: 614-755-6370
Serving the Central Ohio Area
Pickerington: 614-755-6370
Upper Arlington: 614-583-1133

Should You Go to Urgent Care or the Emergency Room?

The ER is often the first place that pops into the minds of people when they're facing virtually any kind of medical situation. However, it's important to understand that many of the medical issues they experience don't need emergency care. Instead, urgent care would work better. Here's how you can figure out if it's urgent or an emergency.

When Should You Go to the Emergency Room?

Emergency rooms are for severe problems. If you are dealing with something that threatens your life, then you should definitely call an ambulance or otherwise get yourself immediately to the emergency room.
If you're suffering from something that needs immediate treatment, then the emergency room is the place to go. That can include things like choking, difficulty breathing, deep wounds and severe burns.
Really, any sudden impairment should lead to an ER visit. For example, if you suddenly have trouble breathing or experience fainting spells, then you should get to the ER. These are the types of things that can indicate something more serious and immediate.
In addition, there are a few things you shouldn't let linger:
  • Persistent chest pains
  • Severe abdominal pains
  • Head trauma, even if it's mild
  • Profuse bleeding
  • Loss of limb
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Drug overdose or poisoning
If you're experiencing any of these things, then you need to get to the ER immediately.

When Should You Go to an Urgent Care Facility?

By contrast, urgent care is for things that aren't threatening your life or immediate ability to function. This actually covers a whole universe of aches, pains, illnesses and injuries that can affect people. That even includes broken bones.
If you have a bad cough, non-debilitating pain or a small bite, cut or burn, then you should go to an urgent care facility. It's not an emergency, but it does require a relatively quick response, which urgent care can deliver. In fact, urgent care facilities do, and can do, a lot more than many people realize.

Why Should You Go to Urgent Care Instead of the ER?

You now know you can use urgent care for a large variety of reasons. You can still go to the ER for most of those reasons as well, but here's why you should choose urgent care instead.
It's Cheaper
The ER typically comes with a steep flat fee you have to pay no matter what reason you went in for. Even if all you get is a pain pill for your wait and trouble, you'll still have to pay the full ER visit costs. You'll likely have to pay a marked-up price for that single ibuprofen as well.
It's Faster
Emergency rooms deal with high-priority cases first. If you're not in an immediate emergency, you have to wait for those who are.
Even if someone comes in an hour after you've waited, they will see a doctor ahead of you if they have a severe enough injury or problem. At an urgent care facility, you can get in, see a doctor, receive treatment and leave fairly quickly.
It's Better
Those who work in the ER are there to deal with emergencies. If you don't have an emergency, you may not receive the best care, diagnosis or treatment since that's not the ER's purpose or focus. That's not to say you'll receive bad care, but you can certainly receive better, more personal care at an urgent care facility.

Why Do You Still Need the ER?

Though urgent care centers are great, there's no substitute for an emergency room. If you need immediate help, then you should definitely make your way to the emergency room. If you're in doubt, you can contact your primary care provider and ask which option you should consider and when.
Urgent care isn't in competition with emergency rooms - there's a time and place for everything. At Access Urgent Medical Care, we want to deliver the best care for you and your family.
If you have an injury or you're suffering from something that doesn't require the ER, contact us. Feel free to call, set up an appointment or drop by one of our two central Ohio locations.