courtesy of Sterling Urgent Care

All too often, illness or injury appears suddenly: You wake up with intense abdominal pain, you slip on the ice and can no longer put weight on your swollen ankle, or your infant spikes a high fever over the weekend.

When situations like these occur, you are left to decide where to go for medical care, especially if the symptoms seem severe and your physician’s office is closed.

It is important to understand the difference between urgent care and emergency room facilities and when it is best to go to which for treatment, so you know where to go and how you can potentially save time and money.

A visit to the emergency room can often be expensive and time consuming. According to the United States Government Division of Health Care Statistics, only 15 percent of the patients seen in the emergency room are experiencing true medical emergencies. That means that 85 percent of the patients could have sought treatment elsewhere.

Urgent care facilities are a great option for patients experiencing: mild asthma, minor burns, cuts, rashes, suspected bone fractures, sprains and strains, colds, coughs, sore throats, fevers, ear infections, sinus infections, urinary tract infections, and other non-life-threatening ailments. It is also an excellent option if you are unable to get a timely appointment with your primary care physician. Some facilities even allow patients to receive their primary care within the urgent care facility.

Emergency Room visits or 911 calls should be for emergencies which include, but are not limited to: uncontrollable bleeding, major fractures or burns, numbness or paralysis of face, arm, or leg, sudden slurred speech, visual weakness, head injuries, sudden severe headaches, seizure or loss of consciousness, suicidal feelings, difficulty breathing or severe shortness of breath, persistent chest or abdominal pressure, severe allergic reactions, and poisoning or suspected overdose.

Illness and injury can often be a difficult and scary time. It is important to know where to get proper care.