when to go to urgent care

Avoid Unnecessary Hospital Visits: When to Head to Urgent Care Instead

If you’re dealing with a serious medical issue, your first instinct is probably to head straight to the emergency room. However, there are some instances when it might be best to seek your nearest urgent care center instead.

According to recent data, Georgia ranks 10th in the nation for the most urgent care clinics, with 3.53 clinics per population of 100,000.

Read on to learn when to go to an urgent care instead of the emergency room to help you save money and time without sacrificing your health or well-being.

Emergency Room Basics

An emergency room is usually part of a larger hospital facility. These places are designed for patients with serious, dire medical emergencies. For example, if you think you’re suffering from a heart attack or you’ve been in a major car accident, the ER is where you should go immediately.

Most emergency rooms are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you can visit them any time you need to. On the other hand, non-emergency care centers like urgent care facilities typically have set days and hours of operation.

Patients who are dealing with a serious medical emergency should visit the emergency room to get the help they need. It’s important to note that ER visits will typically cost you much more than if you were to visit your local urgent care center. However, this does not mean you should avoid going to the emergency room, especially if the situation is serious and requires immediate medical attention.

Why Choose an Urgent Care Center?

An urgent or non-emergency care center is a great way to get medical attention quickly. You don’t need to make an appointment, and most facilities have reasonable operating hours for your convenience.

When you visit an urgent care center, you’ll be seen by a doctor who can diagnose and treat your illness or injury. These centers are designed for people who are dealing with milder, less serious medical issues.

Some examples of why you’d need to visit an urgent care center include if you’re experiencing common symptoms of a cold or flu. Minor injuries are another reason you’d go here, including scrapes, cuts, bruises, or mild burns.

You don’t need to make an appointment in advance to be seen at an urgent care center, which means you can walk in any time as long as they’re open. However, depending on the volume of patients already waiting, be prepared to wait to be seen unless you visit during a slow period.

The cost to visit a non-emergency care center is usually much, much lower than a visit to the emergency room. Most insurance companies also cover these types of visits so you may only need to pay a small co-pay when you check in.

When to Go to Urgent Care

It’s important to know when to go to urgent care versus heading to the emergency room. Keep in mind that the word “urgent” and “emergency” are two very different terms.

Mild illnesses or allergic reactions, minor wounds, and common aches and pains are usually fine for an urgent care center. As long as you aren’t having trouble breathing or you’re not experiencing major pain, most minor health issues can be treated at an urgent care center.

For example, if you feel slightly dizzy but do not notice any signs of a rash or flushing of the skin, an urgent care visit should suffice. Urgent care centers also provide a wide range of common medical tests for things like the flu, RSV, other viruses, STDs, or allergies.

Sprains and strains can also be treated at an urgent care center. You can also get stitches there, as long as the injury is not too severe.

Overall, any mild to moderate symptoms or injuries can be addressed at an urgent care center. However, there are other instances when visiting the emergency room would be a better choice.

When to Visit an Emergency Room

Now that you know more about when to go to urgent care, let’s discuss a few scenarios when visiting the emergency room is advised instead. First, major injuries like broken bones, a lot of bleeding, head injuries, and other serious wounds are almost always a reason to head straight to the ER.

If you’re pregnant and are experiencing concerns regarding your pregnancy, go to the emergency room right away. People experiencing a serious allergic reaction should also go to the closest emergency room as soon as possible.

Patients showing signs of a stroke or heart attack should go to the ER as soon as the symptoms arise. The sooner you can get treatment for these types of symptoms, the better.

Overall, the emergency room is there for people who are experiencing dangerous and sometimes life-threatening medical issues. Once you arrive, make sure you tell the front desk exactly what’s going on so that you can get treatment right away.

When to Call 911

There may be times when you can’t get to the emergency room yourself and might need to call 911 for an ambulance. If the condition is life-threatening and you can’t drive, call 911 right away.

Patients who cannot move or can’t move any further without causing any more harm to themselves should also call 911. In some cases, you might simply be emotionally or physically unable to drive or get assistance with transportation to the hospital.

Get the Help You Need ASAP

Remember the tips from our guide to help you determine when to go to urgent care and when to visit the nearest emergency room. Choosing to go to an urgent care center can be just as helpful in some cases and will also save you money.

If you need urgent medical care in Augusta, Evans, Grovetown, South Augusta, and Thomson, visit one of MedNow Urgent Care’s locations, or contact us to find out more about our services.

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