Whenever people are injured or feel poorly, there’s an almost primal desire to rush to the emergency room. A lot of the times these are valid concerns, such as major injuries and truly debilitating diseases. But sometimes, people go to the emergency room for minor medical concerns that could occupy the time of medical professionals who could be helping someone with worse conditions. There’s also the fact that emergency room bills are soaring through the roof, with a woman who only received an ice pack getting a $5,000 bill. But what other options are there for the sick and injured of the United States? Where are they to turn for their sniffles and stitches?
Urgent Attention for Urgent Needs
All over America, urgent medical care franchises are providing people with treatments for their non-life threatening injuries and diseases. There are approximately 9,000 of these facilities throughout the country. Much like an emergency room, there is no need to schedule an appointment to receive aid. Nurse practitioners usually provide the necessary patient care and they can tend to a lot of things that people usually rush to the ER for. In fact, between 13.7 to 27.1 percent of emergency room visits are treatable with the resources available at an urgent care facility. There are multiple benefits for choosing to go to one of these locations instead of the emergency room.
Because the staff of urgent medical care centers only treat conditions that aren’t life-threatening, they don’t attend to patients by descending order of severity. They, instead, operate on a first-come-first-served basis, massively cutting down the time a patient would otherwise wait to see an emergency medical professional. A patient in an urgent care facility would wait an average of fewer than 30 minutes before receiving treatment. Compare that to the average two-hour waiting time of an emergency room, and the appeal of these centers becomes readily apparent.
What Constitutes an ER-Worthy Condition?
As useful and practical as these facilities can be, people should still be aware of when their condition requires the expertise and treatments only available at emergency rooms.
If someone is finding it very hard to breathe, such as happens during a severe allergic reaction or an impending heart attack, it may be time to call the paramedics or head for the nearest emergency room. Speaking of heart attacks, if a person feels pain on the left side of their chest and has a history of cardiac problems, someone should definitely call the emergency room for help. The same goes for when someone starts displaying the classic signs of a stroke, such as slurred speech and the sagging of one side of the face.
Other symptoms and conditions that warrant a trip to the ER include:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Sudden loss of sensation in any extremity
- The presence of blood when coughing
- Wounds that won’t stop bleeding
If someone experiences any of these, the best way to get help is to dial 911 or rush them to an emergency room.