Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care

Medical emergencies can happen without warning—anytime, anywhere and to anyone. But have you ever thought about where you should go in the case of such an emergency? What type of facility can treat you and your loved ones (or your employees) the fastest based upon your condition? An emergency room can certainly take care of most issues that may arise. But is the ER always necessary? Is there a more cost-effective alternative?

The truth is that options do exist when it comes to getting treatment for medical emergencies. If you formulate an emergency plan, you can save valuable time and money later. What does a medical emergency plan look like?

Three simple steps can help get the care you need, when you need it most.

One: Know where to go.

Two: Know what to expect when you get there.

Three: Be prepared.

Know where to go.

Identifying the right medical facility for what ails you is perhaps the most important step to getting the emergency care you need. You can choose an ER or an urgent care facility depending on the type of care you require. ERs are specifically designed for serious medical conditions or symptoms caused by an injury, sickness or mental illness that arise suddenly and require immediate care and treatment to avoid death or disability. By contrast, minor cuts, breaks, sprains, colds and the like can ideally be treated at an urgent care facility and are often faster and less costly. Quality is key when it comes to choosing emergency care. Look for experienced, compassionate care backed by the highest quality hospital network in your area.

Know what to expect.

Once you arrive at the emergency care facility of your choice, you will immediately begin a triage evaluation whereby a registered nurse (RN) performs a quick assessment of your medical condition. During triage, the RN will request some general information about who you are and the main reason for your visit. Your vital signs (blood pressure, temperature, etc.) will be checked, and the seriousness of your condition will be determined so that proper treatment can be administered.

Be prepared.

Medical emergencies can be very stressful for everyone involved. In order to alleviate stress and expedite treatment, it’s important to have a few vital pieces of personal information handy at all times. Aside from your insurance card and photo identification, it’s a great idea to create a medical information card for yourself and your loved ones. This card should include your name, the telephone number of your primary care physician, a list of medications you are currently taking and a list of any drug allergies you have. You can go a step further by including advanced directives such as a living will, do-not-resuscitate orders and power of attorney documents.

Today, high-tech mobile apps exist as well, that can help you determine wait times, locations, directions and what type of facility is best for your emergency condition. Check your mobile device and “know before you go.”

Now that you know the ins and outs of emergency care, you’re ready to save valuable time and money when a medical emergency strikes.