If you cut your hand while preparing those holiday appetizers, does it require the emergency room? Can an urgent care center treat a burn, fall, or even an asthma attack? Emergency rooms typically see an increase in visits during the holiday season. People are pulling out ladders to hang lights, the kitchen is full of hustle and bustle, and accidents tend to occur. In addition, the holidays fall in the middle of flu season, when the ER tends to be the most crowded. Did you know that urgent care facilities can expertly handle many routine medical situations, saving you time and medical costs?
So what is appropriate for an urgent care and what is not? To receive medical attention that is the most appropriate for your illness or injury, please consider using the following general guidelines.
When to go to the Emergency Room
Emergency rooms should be used for serious conditions such as a suspected stroke, heart attack, severe bleeding, head injury, severe fractures, severe burn, or other major trauma. In general, the following conditions are best evaluated in an Emergency Department:
• Deep cuts or bleeding that won’t stop
• Problems related to pregnancy
• Coughing or vomiting blood
• Suspected stroke or heart attack
• Severe burns
• Moderate to severe asthma
• Large bone fractures
• Knife or gunshot wounds
• Chest pain
• Difficulty breathing
• Loss of consciousness
• Severe abdominal pain
When an Urgent Care Center Can Better Meet Your Needs
If you have any of the emergent conditions mentioned above, the Emergency Department is your only option. But if your condition is less serious, urgent care centers can save you time and money and can help keep the local emergency room free to handle more serious situations. Examples of conditions that can easily be treated at an urgent care center include:
• Minor allergies
• Minor fractures (fingers, toes)
• Urinary tract infections
• Earaches and infections
• Back pain
• Sore throats
• Mild asthma
• Minor burns or cuts
• Rashes and bumps
• Sprains and strains
• Vomiting and diarrhea
Most urgent care centers accept walk-ins, are open on weekends, and offer extended hours during weekdays when your physician’s office may have already closed. Many also have radiology (x-ray) and lab services on site so tests can be performed while you wait. You will be given the results before you leave, and they will also be sent to your primary care physician for follow-up.
When in doubt, call ahead. If the urgent care can’t diagnose or treat your condition properly, they will advise you to go to the emergency room.
Submitted by San Antonio Regional Hospital, See Ad on the sidebar