Did you know that medical bills are the largest cause of U.S bankruptcies, with over 2 million people being adversely affected?
We all know that managing healthcare isn’t always intuitive. For one, insurance terms can be complex and confusing. Furthermore, it’s hard to know the differences between different kinds of services and providers.
Let’s get into whether you should consider urgent care vs ER for your next visit.
When To Head To The Emergency Room
Emergency rooms are fully equipped and staffed for the most critical medical needs. They can treat serious concerns like heart attacks, strokes, and traumatic injuries after an accident.
You should go to the emergency room if you experience:
- weakness or numbness on one side of the body
- fainting or serious dizziness
- chest pain or difficulty breathing
- coughing or vomiting blood
- slurred speech
- head or eye injury
- severe cuts
- severe cold or flu symptoms
- facial lacerations
- major pregnancy concerns
- serious suicidal or homicidal feelings
If your intuition tells you it’s serious, don’t hesitate. Get care immediately. It could make a difference in changing your life.
When To Head To Urgent Care
Despite what some people think, urgent care is not synonymous with emergency care. Instead, urgent care centers are same-day clinics intended to treat an assortment of non-emergency medical issues promptly.
Urgent care is best for evaluating and treating:
- abdominal pain
- fever without a present rash
- vomiting and nausea
- diarrhea or constipation
- sprains and strains
- small cuts
Urgent care centers, like Mednow Urgent Care, can treat minor conditions before they escalate into more serious issues.
Why The Difference Matters
While it may not seem like a huge deal which one you choose, it is. For one, going to the ER instead of urgent care can land you with a huge, unwanted medical bill. As mentioned, medical debt can be incredibly taxing on individuals on their families.
You may also end up with a longer wait. When you go to the emergency room for non-emergency issues, you’ll have to wait in line.
That’s because the medical staff treats injuries in order of priority. If you don’t have a critical condition, be prepared to get comfortable in that waiting room.
Yes, this may seem frustrating. However, if it were the other way around, you would want to be treated first in the event of a life-threatening illness.
What If You Don’t Have Health Insurance?
Regardless of your financial situation, the emergency room cannot turn you away or refuse treatment. This makes the emergency room a safe and viable option if you have nowhere else to try.
However, you should always take the time to familiarize yourself with potential coverage options. Most states now subsidize health insurance if you fall underneath a designated income level.
Furthermore, you may be eligible to qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Check with your state’s website to determine the qualifications.
What About Visiting Your Primary Care Physician?
Your primary care physician (PCP) is typically the professional you establish a relationship with based on your medical needs.
At best, your PCP acts as your advocate. He or she can vouch for your needs and help to coordinate care with other specialists. You should always follow-up with your PCP after an appointment at the emergency room or urgent care.
Furthermore, you should meet with your doctor for continuity of care. If you are managing with a chronic health issue, your PCP is your best bet. They can help with your prescription refills and ongoing health management.
You can always request that the treating physician consults with your PCP. While it may not be guaranteed, you can obtain a second referral.
When Should You Call 911?
We’re always told to call 911 in the event of an emergency. But how do you define the parameters of an emergency?
First of all, when in doubt, make the call. If you’re not sure how to proceed, make the call. The dispatcher will direct you to the appropriate resources if it’s not with them.
If you suspect it’s a life-threatening medical emergency, call 911. This applies to sudden heart or chest problems, numbness, difficulty speaking, or drowning. It also applies to anyone regardless of the age.
If you witness an assault or see someone getting injured, it’s also smart to call 911. As a witness, you may be able to offer valuable input to law enforcement. Finally, if you’re in a car accident (or watch one happen), call 911.
However, you should not call 911 for anything that’s not a clear emergency. For example, a loud party or burst water pipes does not justify as an emergency.
You should always know your location. Even if you don’t know the exact address, you can identify landmarks or nearby buildings.
Answer the dispatcher’s questions clearly and honestly. It’s best to stay calm and cooperative when on the phone- even if you’re feeling incredibly anxious and frightened.
Follow directions. Remember that dispatchers are professionally trained to keep you safe. They will do everything in their power to send help on the way.
Final Thoughts On Urgent Care Vs ER
If you’re struggling between urgent care vs ER, remember that you should always use the emergency room as a true last resort. It’s intended when urgent care or your primary care physician are not viable options.
Do you want to be a part of helping advance healthcare? Are you interested in learning more about how you can help others? Click here to learn how to get started in the medical field.