When to go to Urgent Care

There’s often quite a bit of confusion over the difference between Urgent Care and Emergency Room services. Below are the two main criteria to determine the urgency of an injury or illness.

If it’s not life-threatening

One fact that many people may not be aware of is that most urgent care facilities have x-ray equipment. That means that even sprains or fractures probably won’t require an expensive trip to the emergency room! Although you can’t control when you’ll experience a sudden illness or injury, the best time to go to urgent care is mid-day in the middle of the week, due to a high volume of patients first thing in the morning or immediately after work. Here are more common reasons for which you may need to schedule an urgent care visit:

  • Minor trauma, such as a sprain or fracture
  • Vomiting
  • Severe sore throat
  • Painful urination
  • Fever
  • Foreign object in nose or eye
  • Minor burns, cuts or scrapes
  • Allergic reaction
  • Migraines
  • Earache

If it needs immediate attention

An example of when you may not need immediate attention may be if you need a refill of a prescription for a chronic condition, such as diabetes. Your primary care doctor is the best person to monitor treatment for any ongoing conditions.

Alternatively, you may need to go to the ER instead or an urgent care facility if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe head trauma or bleeding
  • Suspected overdose or poisoning
  • Seizure
  • Loss of vision or blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chest pain
  • Sudden tingling or weakness

Something to keep in mind is that if there is any chance you might be having a heart attack (chest pain, shortness of breath, etc.) or a stroke (blurred vision or sudden difficulty walking or talking, etc.), head to your nearest emergency room. Note that many people can save a significant amount of money for non-life threatening services as urgent care visits are generally a lot less expensive than ER visits even if you have health insurance. Keep in mind that most patients will have health insurance plans that require a co-insurance price tag that typically is quite hefty when it comes to ER visits. Be sure to check the details of your health plan – something that most people don’t do.

We have urgent care (and more) services listed in our directory at ZendyHealth — if you are looking to save more, you can choose the price you want to pay on an urgent care visit.

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