Urgent or Emergent

How to know where to go when things suddenly aren’t how they should be

Accidents happen, and we don’t get to say when or where—including after hours or away from home. As a result, it can be difficult to know

whether to go to the emergency room or an ur

care facility. How serious is serious enough for the ER? Can an urgent care clinic address your specific injury? How do you balance the time you’ve got with the budget you’ve allocated?

As a rule of thumb, if you would feel comfortable visiting your primary care doctor for your injury, then an urgent care clinic is probably the better choice. For more complex or severe injuries, an emergency room is virtually guaranteed to have the staff and equipment on hand to treat you more appropriately. If you’re totally unsure, trust your instincts. Serious injuries call for an emergency room visit.

Although you should consider calling in advance to make sure a specific urgent care clinic can treat a potentially more advanced injury like an allergic reaction, we’ve rounded up a brief list that might help you make a decision when it’s time to get some medical help, especially as you get more active in nicer weather.

Types of issues typically seen in an urgent care clinic:

• Asthma attack

• Coughing or colds

• Minor burn

• Minor injury from a fall or sport

• Broken bone

• Persistent diarrhea or painful urination

• Rash

• Simple laceration

• Sprain or strain

Types of issues typically seen in an emergency room:

• Allergic reaction

• Broken bone with deformity

• Bleeding that won’t stop

• Extensive or complicated cut or laceration

• Fainting or head injury with loss of consciousness

• Fever with a rash

• Loss or change of vision

• Persistent chest pain, especially if it radiates to your arm or jaw

• Procedure requiring a CT scan or sedation

• Seizure without a previous diagnosis or epilepsy

• Serious burn

• Snake bite

• Spinal injury

• Sudden and severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

• Blood due to vomiting or coughing

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