Understanding When to Visit Urgent Care Clinics

When people are ill or injured and can’t get an appointment with their primary care doctor, they may wonder if they should go to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic. In this YouTube video, viewers learn to decide if their condition warrants a trip to the emergency department. As a general guideline, the emergency room should be reserved for life-threatening situations. Emergencies include a heart attack, a stroke, a car accident, or a traumatic incident.

Urgent care clinics are for medical problems that aren’t life-threatening but are distressing enough that you shouldn’t wait for an appointment. Examples include a urine infection, sprains, or fractures.

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Other examples of an urgent care center might include a respiratory infection, headache, or stomach ache. Urgent care facilities offer x-rays, EKGs, and lab tests – although not all the test results may be available on the same day.

One of the most important questions to ask yourself before choosing between the urgent care and the emergency room will be, “Is this a life-threatening situation?” This is important because if people with less urgent conditions come into the emergency room, they will use resources that should be reserved for emergencies. There are often long waits for treatment in the emergency room, while you would likely receive quick treatment from an urgent care center.

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