When is it appropriate to go to an emergency department, and when is an urgent care clinic a better
If you need an ambulance to get to a doctor, you need an emergency department (ED). If you have a life or limb- threatening medical problem, or an injury involving an amputation or a severe wound, you need to go to the ED. Examples are a possible heart attack, signs of a stroke, severe shortness of breath or bleeding, coughing up or vomiting blood, and suicidal or homicidal feelings. ED’s specialize in managing catastrophic injuries and illnesses and must be staffed and equipped to do so 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That is one reason care in an ED is so expensive.
When you need attention now, but your problem is not life or limb-threatening and you are not able to see your primary care physician, urgent care is often a more affordable and timely solution. Urgent care centers specialize in promptly diagnosing and treating sudden health care needs such as simple fractures, sprains and strains, lacerations, abrasions, bites and boils. They also regularly treat eye, ear, and throat problems along with respiratory infections, flu and viruses, gastrointestinal disorders, sexually transmitted infections, and urinary tract infections. They are also a great resource for camp, school and sports physicals. Most treat workers compensation injuries, many provide travel medicine consultations, vaccinations, and dispense some prescription medications. Accredited urgent care centers such as Yubadocs must have X-ray, ECG and lab services available onsite and meet rigorous quality standards.