When sickness occurs suddenly, you might find yourself asking where to go to get help. Unfortunately, not all medical issues strike between 9 am – 5 pm on weekdays. Even after traditional office hours have ended, there are still options for where to seek help for your medical problems.
Urgent care clinics and hospital emergency rooms are open for non-traditional hours to help cover the gaps in your healthcare. The question is, which one is most appropriate for your specific problem?
For help deciding where to go, ask yourself these simple questions:
Would I visit my regular doctor about this issue?
This question helps you decide what level of problem you are having. If your regular doctor was available for an appointment immediately, would you have them take a look or do you feel like you need more care than what a general practitioner offers?
Urgent care clinics are the most appropriate substitutions for your regular doctor. Patients are seen on a walk-in basis, so you do not need an appointment, and X-ray, lab and other diagnostic services are often available on-site.Anything that you would normally have made an appointment for is probably not an emergency and should not require a trip to the emergency room. On the other hand, if you feel your regular doctor could not give you the care you needed for this problem, it might be time to head to the ER.
Is my life in immediate danger?
If your medical issue poses a direct threat to your life, the emergency room is the best place for you to go. This includes any kind of blood loss, loss of consciousness, negative reactions to medications, traumatic injuries, and other serious conditions.
An urgent care center is not set up to handle life-threatening issues. If the situation is serious and the urgent care provider determines you need more complex care that is not available on-site, you would need to be re-routed to the closest ER, taking time away from your treatment.
To help you better understand what issues should be taken care of at each type of care center, here are a couple practical examples based off of common medical problems.
Allergies occur when the body becomes hypersensitive to a particular substance and has an adverse immune reaction when it comes in contact with that substance. This can happen with anything from animal fur and dander, medications, foods, plant pollen, etc.
Urgent Care: If your allergies need to be treated immediately because they are causing you extreme discomfort, impairing your ability to do necessary activities, or are otherwise troubling you, this is an issue for urgent care. While these situations are not pleasant, they are also not life-threatening.
ER: If you have a severe allergic reaction to something, you should go to the ER. Those who are allergic to bee stings, for example, can experience extreme symptoms and possibly death if they do not get the proper treatment immediately. Most pollen allergies will never require a trip to the ER.
Urinary Tract Infections
A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria goes up through the urinary tract and infects the various organs and tissues in this system. They are highly uncomfortable infections that can lead to worse issues if left unresolved.
Urgent Care: Most UTIs are not dangerous, although they can be extremely uncomfortable. If the infection is causing you much irritation, pain, or discomfort then you should see an urgent care provider about the issue. They will be able to prescribe the necessary medications to start immediate treatment.
ER: If you have not been diagnosed with a UTI and start experiencing issues such as noticeable blood in the urine or severe nausea and vomiting, these symptoms may be reasons to go to the ER as they could be indicative of other more serious issues. A UTI is generally not a life-threatening condition, no matter how uncomfortable it is. In most cases, a primary care physician or an urgent care provider would have the sufficient resources at hand to provide treatment.
Urgent care centers play a key role in the healthcare delivery system. In addition to providing cost-effective treatment for numerous conditions, they help to keep emergency rooms free for critical, life-threatening issues, such as heart attacks and major trauma.
Urgent Clinics Medical Care offers on-the-spot treatment throughout the Houston area and no appointment is necessary. Our convenient and affordable healthcare services are conducted in a state-of-the-art facility with digital x-ray and laboratory equipment.
You’re welcome to visit an Urgent Clinics Medical Care facility any day of the week, including weekends. Our clinics are open from 8 am to 9 pm and are conveniently located in Champions Forest, The Woodlands and 3 locations in League City: Creekside, Marina Bay and Tuscan Lakes. Our Pearland Clinic is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!