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When to go to the ER vs. Immediate Care

On Behalf of | Oct 27, 2023 | Uncategorized |

There were once only two real options for those in need of professional medical support. People could make an appointment with their primary care physician or seek immediate support at a local emergency room.

Unfortunately, this led to a lot of demand for emergency room services that often impacted the ability of hospitals to provide adequate care. As a result, many medical systems have expanded to include a third option. Urgent care (also known as immediate care) facilities can provide medical treatment for people in an assortment of scenarios when waiting to see a doctor during business hours would not be appropriate but when emergency room care is also not necessary.

How can someone who needs medical support determine whether they should go to an immediate care center or the emergency room?

Emergency rooms are for life-threatening matters

As a general rule, only those who could be at risk of death or long-term medical issues typically need to seek treatment at an emergency room. There are a variety of healthcare challenges that would justify going to an emergency room, including:

  • severe chest or abdominal pain
  • extreme difficulty breathing
  • very high fevers
  • unstoppable bleeding
  • possible poisoning or overdoses
  • a sudden loss of consciousness
  • coughing up blood
  • injuries to the head, neck or back

However, some issues that people believe would justify emergency room treatment are actually better suited for an immediate care facility. Situations likely to benefit from Immediate Care treatment include:

  • cuts that require stitches
  • sprains or strains
  • sore throats
  • nausea
  • persistent coughs
  • headache
  • infection
  • fever
  • eye injuries
  • seasonal cold/flu symptoms
  • asthma attacks

Knowing where to seek proper treatment can make a big difference regarding the speed with which someone receives proper care. Over-taxed emergency rooms often apply triage practices during intake and decline to treat those with mild to moderate health issues quickly in favor of treating those with much more pressing medical concerns.

Understanding what facility to visit when experiencing some kind of serious health concern can improve someone’s chances of rapid treatment and an accurate diagnosis.

When to go to ER vs immediate care infographic