It’s fairly easy to tell when an injury is bad enough to see a doctor immediately. Crisis situations and sudden severe injuries can be stressful, and in a moment of panic, it is difficult to know whether to go to an urgent care clinic or an emergency room. Here are some guidelines to help you make the right choice between urgent care or emergency room visits when in an emergency.

Urgent Care Clinics

Urgent care clinics are designed to help when a normal visit with your family doctor can’t wait. Generally, urgent care visits are best for non-life-threatening injuries or illnesses that are still serious or need to be addressed in a timely fashion. This can include:

  • Fevers
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Dehydration
  • Sprains or strains
  • Small cuts that may require stitches

Generally, try to opt for urgent care clinics if you’re not sure if a situation is serious enough for an emergency room. Typically, only 3% of patients who come to an urgent care center need to be diverted to the emergency room; therefore, it’s likely that if you go to an urgent care clinic, you’re in the right place.

Emergency Rooms

Emergency room visits should be reserved for when a situation is life-threatening or otherwise immediately dangerous. Emergency rooms are designed for taking care of the most serious of injuries and illnesses, including:

  • Head or eye injury, including concussions
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Severe fevers, especially for younger or older patients
  • Broken bones
  • Severe cuts, burns, or other wounds
  • Chest pains or difficulty breathing

Any of these injuries, illnesses, or symptoms could potentially be life-threatening, meaning it is crucial to get to an emergency room as quick as possible. Call an ambulance or otherwise get the injured or ill person to an emergency room as quickly as possible in these situations, as an emergency room will be able to provide the necessary care.

Choosing the right type of care for your situation can mean reduced wait times, proper care for the situation, and ultimately reduced cost as emergency room visits can be expensive. Make sure to remember these guidelines next time you or a loved one are in a crisis and need prompt health care.