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When it comes to choosing a medical center, it is important to understand the differences between emergency rooms (ERs) and Urgent Care. If a medical condition is life- or limb-threatening or involves severe wounds or amputations, patients should go to the ER. If the medical condition is non-life-threatening, Urgent Care can be a less costly and faster alternative to the ER. However, while 44% to 65% of all ER episodes could have been treated at urgent care locations according to a recent study, there are certain times when it’s much more appropriate to seek out medical treatment at the ER. Here is what you need to know before choosing a Medical Center.

There are many benefits of Urgent Care. First, you can find proper treatment. These centers specialize in minor emergencies and are designed to promptly treat minor medical conditions before they become life-threatening. Life-threatening emergencies should always be directed to the ER. Secondly, there are shorter wait times. Waiting is a pain and it can be worse if you are in pain. At Urgent Care centers, wait times are usually shorter than most patients experience at the ER. Life-threatening conditions are treated first, and then less serious cases such as colds, sprains, or minor cuts, are treated as ER provider time allows. Next, you will save money. ER visits for non-life-threatening services may cost more than a regular visit. Overuse of the ER is one of the main reasons for the higher costs and rate increases for insurance premiums. U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group will generally cost you much less for the same service obtained at an ER. Lastly, physicians will make referrals for specialty or emergency care as indicated.

When do you need to visit a medical center’s ER? ER visits are necessary when a patient is suffering from a life- or limb-threatening medical condition, or if their condition involves severe wounds or amputations. If symptoms arise suddenly and you believe that a life is in jeopardy, call 9-1-1. ERs specialize in managing catastrophic illnesses and injuries such as signs of heart attacks (including chest pain), signs of stroke, severe shortness of breath, poisoning, major life- or limb-threatening injuries, severe wounds and amputations, coughing up or vomiting blood, and suicidal or homicidal feelings.

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