Urgent care centers play a critical role in health and wellbeing. However, many people do not know when to seek help from an urgent care center or when to go to other medical facilities. Below are some circumstances in which you should consider an urgent care center.
Your Condition Is Not Life-threatening
Urgent care centers are best for medical conditions that are unlikely to cause death even without prompt medical care. For example, you should visit an urgent care facility if:
- You have suffered a slip and fall accident, but haven't suffered a major fracture, significant blood loss, or temporarily lost consciousness.
- You have skin rashes, for example, from bug bites.
- You have diarrhea.
- You have a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Visit the emergency room (ER) if your medical condition is life-threatening. ERs have the facilities to handle these more dangerous cases and often have more specialized practitioners available.
Your Condition Does Not Threaten a Body Part
Some medical conditions are not life-threatening but risk limb loss; go to the ER for such body parts. However, urgent care medical centers can handle medical issues on specific body parts if a delay cannot cause loss of that body part.
Say you have suffered a cut to your hand during DIY house repairs. Seek urgent medical care if the cuts are relatively superficial, for example, if you only have lacerations. Urgent care makes sense in this case because you won't lose your hand even if your treatment is delayed for a brief period of time. If the cut is very deep, that is likely a situation where you need to go to the ER.
At-home Treatment Isn't Helping
Many people treat relatively minor medical problems at home. For example, if you have a sore throat, you can:
- Gurgle saltwater
- Stay hydrated
- Drink warm liquids
These home remedies should work after a few days or so. However, your at-home treatments might fail if the underlying medical condition is relatively serious. Thus, you should go to an urgent care center if you have tried but failed to handle a medical condition at home.
You Cannot See Your Primary Doctor
Your primary doctor understands your medical history; they should handle most of your medical problems. However, you might not have access to a primary doctor if:
- You don't have a designated primary doctor
- You cannot get an appointment with your primary doctor within a reasonable timeframe
- You need medical attention outside your primary doctor's official working hours
In such a case, the next best option is to seek medical help from an urgent care center.