It’s Saturday morning, and the upper respiratory illness you’ve been nursing for the past week seems to be taking a turn for the worse. You vomited in the middle of the night, woke up with a high fever, and are feeling slightly out of breath. Should you head to our urgent care clinic, or would it be wiser to go to your local emergency room?
As urgent care experts who evaluate and treat patients with acute illnesses and injuries every day of the week, our experienced team at American River Urgent Care understands that it can be hard to know when to choose the ER over urgent care.
You need medical attention — soon
When it comes to accessing prompt medical care for acute health needs, you have several options. If your problem is pressing enough to call for timely care, but not necessarily pressing enough that it requires immediate care, you may consider:
- Seeking a same-day or next day appointment with your primary care provider
- Calling your primary care provider for advice on how to best manage at home
If your problem is more worrisome, however, you may find yourself weighing the pros and cons between:
- Hopping in the car and heading to the nearest walk-in urgent care clinic
- Calling an ambulance or having a family member drive you to the local ER
Always open, the ER is staffed and equipped to help patients with worrisome symptoms, traumatic injuries, and worsening illness. Open for extended hours every day of the week, an urgent care clinic is staffed and equipped to do the same — apart from one major difference.
When you should head to the ER
The ER is the right place to go when you’re experiencing a serious medical emergency. With its hospital connection, advanced technology, and quick access to cardiovascular and trauma specialists, the ER is the best place to seek care for sudden, severe symptoms or any other life-threatening condition or limb-threatening injury.
Symptoms and medical problems that are best treated in the ER include:
- Chest pain or shortness of breath
- Slurred speech or confusion
- A sudden, severe headache
- Seizures, fainting, or dizziness
- Sudden weakness or numbness
- Clammy skin that’s unusually pale
- Sudden, severe abdominal pain
- A severe allergic reaction
- A rash accompanied by a fever
- A complex fracture or dislocated joint
- Eye or head injuries (concussion)
- Severe flu or COVID-19 symptoms
- Substantial burns and lacerations
- Poison ingestion or toxin exposure
Never drive yourself to the ER when you’re experiencing shortness of breath, signs of a heart attack or stroke, or a life- or limb-threatening injury. Instead, call 911. Paramedics can begin administering outcome-changing care as soon as they get to you — and advise the ER team so they’re ready to take over as soon as you roll through the door.
When to choose an urgent care clinic
At American River Urgent Care, our team receives, evaluates, and treats non-emergency patients with pressing medical needs seven days a week.
With an on-site diagnostic lab complete with digital X-ray services, our urgent care clinic can handle a wide range of medical problems that need to be treated right away, but aren’t severe enough to be considered a life- or limb-threatening emergency. This includes:
- Earaches and sore throats
- Sinus infections (sinusitis)
- Upper respiratory infections
- Moderate flu-like symptoms
- Persistent fever (without a rash)
- Minor asthma and allergy symptoms
- Mild to moderate joint sprains
- Simple, stable bone fractures
- Small cuts that may need stitches
- Minor burns and insect bites
- Unexplained rashes (without fever)
- Vomiting or persistent diarrhea
- Mild to moderate abdominal pain
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Simply put, urgent care medicine helps bridge the gap between primary care medicine and emergency medicine, giving you direct access to immediate, non-emergency medical care when you need it.
What if you make the wrong choice?
When you have an urgent medical problem, trust your instincts: If you think you should seek emergency care, chances are you should.
If you arrive at the ER with a problem that could have been handled at an urgent care clinic, you may pay more and wait longer because the triage system puts patients with emergency needs first, but you’ll still get the care you need.
And if you arrive at our urgent care clinic with a very serious medical emergency, our team will start administering care and call 911 to help you get to the ER as soon as possible.
If you have an urgent care need, give us a call at 916-238-5469 today, stop by our walk-in clinic at your convenience, or click online to book an appointment at American River Urgent Care, in Orangevale, California, any time.