When your health is on the line, you want expert care fast. Here are some tips on which facility to choose.
Knowing which to visit is an important way to save time.
What’s the difference?
According to the National Association for Ambulatory Care, an urgent care center is a non-hospital facility where patients consult with physicians about immediate medical needs. No appointment is required. An emergency room, on the other hand, is a department within a hospital that is equipped to handle life-threatening situations. The difference lies in how dire the situation is and what expertise is needed.
What you need to know
An urgent care center offers limited hours. It often features shorter wait times than the emergency room. Visit your local urgent care center if you have:
- Minor burns or lacerations
- Broken bones
- Cold- or flu-like symptoms, including coughs or fever
- Ear infections
- Minor allergic reactions
- Rash or other skin irritations
- Mild asthma
- Animal bites
An emergency room is always open. Because many people don’t know about urgent care centers, emergency rooms fill up and wait times can be long. The most serious conditions are treated first. Visit the ER if you experience any of the following:
- Blood hemorrhage or trauma to the head
- Loss of consciousness
- Chest pain
- Fainting or trouble breathing
- Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision
- Any symptom of cardiac arrest or a stroke
Knowing where to go can save you time and frustration – or even your life. If it’s a matter of life and death, such as symptoms of a heart attack, get to the emergency room. Otherwise, an urgent care center can serve you. If you have any questions about Central Florida Regional Hospital’s Emergency Care department, or if you would like help with a physician referral, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® hotline at 1-800-445-3392.