Should I Use Urgent Care or the Emergency Room?

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Apr. 12, 2017

When you need immediate medical treatment and can't wait days for your regular doctor to treat it, your first reaction might be to go to the hospital. But after thinking about the cost and wait times involved with the typical emergency room visit, you might start to wonder if you should just wait it out until your doctor can see you.

Well, thanks to the advent of the urgent care facility, you have another option that allows you to be seen the same day. Here's what you need to know before you decide where to go for your next medical emergency:

What Is the Difference Between the Emergency Room and Urgent Care?

Both types of health facilities offer immediate care, and both typically accept insurance. However, there are some differences. For example, the emergency room is open 24/7, while most urgent cares have set hours. Your local urgent care may be open most of the day and into the evening, and it should even have weekend hours, so it's convenient for most people. But when it's 3 am and you're injured or sick, your best bet is the emergency room.

On the other hand, most urgent care centers are less expensive than emergency rooms. Whether you're paying cash or using insurance, you'll likely pay less at an urgent care. And that often makes sense because emergency rooms are more for life-and-death situations, so they need more specialists on staff and a wider range of equipment to handle critical care situations.

How Do You Know Which One to Use?

If you have a life-threatening emergency, such as heart problems, inability to breathe or trauma after a car accident, you should go to the emergency room. This type of facility will have the staff and equipment needed in case emergency surgery is necessary to save your life.

But in general, most people find that their medical issue can be treated at an urgent care clinic, since it should provide services like these. For instance, if you have a fever and symptoms of a bad cold, the flu, ear infection, strep throat, or any other type of infection or illness, urgent care can provide you with the diagnosis and treatment you need. In addition, if you were injured and now have a sprain, strain, or muscle ache, urgent care can help. Basically, anything that is not life-threatening but cannot wait days to be treated is a job for urgent care.

If you need immediate medical treatment from trusted providers, visit Paris Community Hospital’s EZ Care clinic located at 2200 S. Main Street in Paris. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9 am to 7 pm, and weekends from 10 am to 6 pm.

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