When you need medical care quickly, you might wonder if you should head into the emergency room or try an urgent care facility. Since urgent care services centers offer many of the same services as the emergency room, it can be confusing to know where to go. However, by understanding these common mistakes, you can better decide what is right for your situation.
1. Assuming Urgent Care Can't Help
Because urgent care centers aren't always attached directly to a hospital, many patients assume they can't do much to help. However, urgent care facilities offer help with everything from the cold and flu to minor broken bones and sports injuries, offering services ranging from respiratory treatment to setting bones and offering sutures.
Before you assume an urgent care facility can't help, think about giving them a call. Explain what happened or how you are feeling, and ask if it is appropriate to go in for service. While receptionists aren't legally allowed to give medical advice over the phone, they can usually tell you quickly whether the urgent care facility is the place you should be, or if you should head to the hospital.
2. Heading to Urgent Care With A Life-Threatening Emergency
On the other hand, many patrons over-use urgent care, assuming these medical facilities have everything in place to handle every potential medical complication. However, since urgent care facilities don't offer certain services such as life-saving surgical procedures or MRI machines, you should never head to an urgent care facility if you suspect you have a life-threatening emergency.
Examples of medical problems that could be life threatening include head injuries, chest pain, difficulty breathing, or extreme blood loss. In these instances, head directly to the emergency room, or better yet, have someone take you or call 911.
3. Demanding Powerful Medications
You might know what works for you and you might be in a hurry for treatment, but waltzing into a medical center and demanding specific medication is textbook drug-seeking behavior. Keep in mind that urgent care facilities aren't a substitute for your normal family doctor, and they don't know you. By being pushy about pain relievers or other strong medications, you could be referred to the police instead of a pharmacy.
If you are sick or injured, keep in mind that urgent care facilities are out there to help you. If you don't have a life-threatening emergency, you can always call first to see if it is appropriate for you to come in to urgent care. Keep in mind that professionals are there to help, so focus on being kind, patient, and willing to comply with doctor's orders.