How to tell if you should visit the ER

Medical services are often overstretched, and lots of us worry about when to visit the emergency room, or if we should just see our Doctor. If you’ve had an accident, or have woken feeling very ill, you need to be able to decide if you should call 911, drive to the ER or visit an urgent care doctor

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It can be difficult to decide if you need the ER, urgent care or a walk-in centre, as all treat conditions that shouldn’t wait to be treated. 

When To Visit The ER
Some accidents or sudden illness symptoms are always considered to be an emergency and require immediate or more advanced treatments that need a hospital. If you’re experiencing one of the following, you should visit the ER for treatment.
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Numbness or weakness on one side
  • Slurred speech
  • Fainting
  • Serious burns
  • Head or eye injuries
  • Concussion
  • Broken bones or dislocated joints
  • Fever with a rash
  • Seizures
  • Serious cuts that require stitches
  • Lacerations on the face
  • Vaginal bleeding with pregnancy

When To Use Urgent Care
Urgent care works differently to emergency care. Urgent care offers same day care for accidents or conditions that should be seen by a doctor right away but aren’t considered real emergencies. Visit your nearest urgent care clinic for:
  • Fever without a rash
  • Vomiting or persistent diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Dehydration
  • Moderate flu-like symptoms
  • Sprains and strains
  • Small cuts that may require stitches
If your symptoms have been progressing gradually or you think you know what the condition is, such as if you know you’re prone to urinary tract infections or you recognise your child’s symptoms as an ear infection, you can call your usual doctor to try and get a same day appointment. An urgent care clinic can also be used if you can’t get in with your primary care doctor, but it should be generally used for non-emergency conditions that still require rapid care. 

When To Call 911
If you know you need emergency treatment, you may still wonder if you should drive yourself to the emergency room or call 911. 

Use common sense to make the decision, and remember it’s better to be safe than sorry. If in doubt, call 911. If you’re having serious symptoms like chest pain, severe bleeding, faintness or impaired vision, definitely do not drive yourself. Call 911 instead. 

If you think you may have had a heart attack or a stroke, call an ambulance immediately, as the paramedics will be able to help as soon as they arrive. 

When To Go To A Walk In Clinic
A walk-in clinic offers speedy access to medical treatment, without needing to booking an appointment. Instead of doctors, these clinics are usually staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. A walk-in can be used for most kinds of illnesses when you can’t see your regular doctor, such as:
  • Painful urination
  • Rashes without fever
  • Mild flu-like symptoms
  • Cough and congestion symptoms
  • Sore throat
  • Ear pain
  • Eye redness, discharge or itchiness

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