ER? Urgent care? Virtual care? Here's how to make the right care choice for your family.
We live in a world of choices. That's true whether we're talking about a cup of coffee (venti decaf iced toasted white chocolate mocha, anyone?), a hamburger (have it your way!) and even healthcare. When we're sick or injured, it's often hard to know where to turn for the best treatment. From emergency rooms and hospital-based ERs to urgent care centers and online doctors (virtual care), we'll take some of the mystery out of medicine so you can make the right care choice.
In a nutshell, here are your care choices in descending order of injury or illness severity:
- 911 for life-threatening medical emergencies, including stroke, heart attack, drowning, choking, traumatic injuries, second or third-degree burns to more than 10% of the body and some seizures
- ER for severe, non-life-threatening emergencies
- Urgent care for minor illness or injury
- Virtual care for common conditions and prescription refills
If you're still not sure where, say, a severe case of flu falls, you're not alone. Read on and we'll examine each care choice in more detail.
The right care choice when it's an EMERGENCY.
Emergency rooms are the right choice when an injury or illness is severe but doesn't appear to be life-threatening. For example, someone's having chest pain, but it's unclear whether it's a heart attack or heartburn. Always call 911 if you're not sure.
Severe, non-specific pain is always a good reason to go to the ER so that emergency medicine physicians can perform exams and testing to find out what's wrong.
Other reasons to go to the ER:
- Breathing problems, severe allergic reactions, uncontrolled asthma
- Broken bones
- Severe stomach pain, persistent vomiting or diarrhea, dehydration
- Sudden/severe headache, dizziness, weakness or confusion
- Deep/severe wounds and burns; heavy bleeding
- Head injury, concussion
- Fainting and seizures
- Inhaled smoke or toxic fumes
- Coughing or throwing up blood
- Poisoning, alcohol or drug overdose
- Suicidal thoughts
- High fever not controlled with medication or in conjunction with other symptoms, including stiff neck
Is flu ever an emergency?
The answer is yes, and the flu symptoms that could send you to the ER are reflected in the list above. You should come to the ER for flu with:
- Persistent vomiting
- Trouble breathing
- Change in mental status (confusion, etc.)
- Other risk factors, such as chronic medical conditions, asthma, pregnancy or age (very young or elderly)
The right care choice when it's URGENT.
When you're sick or injured, it's important not to wait too long to get care. Urgent care clinics, such as CareNow®, can treat minor illness and injuries without having to make an appointment or, in some cases, wait as you might in a doctor's office. They also offer extended and weekend hours.
Reasons to go to an urgent care clinic:
- Minor illness and injuries, including:
- Bronchitis and other respiratory infections
- Cuts, scrapes, bruises, lacerations, contusions and burns
- Childhood illnesses
- Flu (testing and treatment) and cold symptoms
- Suspected fractures (broken bones)
- Strains and sprains
- Strep throat
- Sports physicals
- Immunizations, including flu vaccines, MMR and tetanus
- Family and occupational care
CareNow offers convenient Web Check-In®, so if you do have to wait, you can do it in the comfort of your own home.
The right care choice for CONVENIENCE.
Picture this: you're feeling under the weather but you're stuck at work and can't get to your doctor during business hours. Or, you're up at midnight with a sick child. These and similar situations are exactly when you need virtual care.
Medical City Virtual Care allows you to log on anytime, from a computer or mobile device, and get medical care. A licensed board-certified physician, nurse practitioner (NP), or physician's assistant (PA) will review your symptoms, make a diagnosis, and develop your treatment plan.
Visits cost just $45 — similar to a co-pay — and you can get $10 off your first visit with code BLOG10.
Medical City Virtual Care offers:
- Treatment for a wide range of non-emergency medical conditions, including:
- Colds, sinus infections and flu
- Allergies and hay fever
- UTIs/yeast infections
- Stomach problems, including IBS and GERD
- Canker/cold sores
- Diaper rash, eczema and contact dermatitis
- Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
- Swimmer's ear
- Head lice
- Tick bites
- Minor burns
- Low back pain
- Medication refills, including Epi-Pen, asthma, birth control and erectile dysfunction
- Preventive and travel medications
- Cosmetic services
We hope you never need emergency services, but if you do, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.
The post In an Accident, Illness or Injury, Make the Right Care Choice appeared first on LifeSigns.