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Health Care Confusion Understanding the Difference Between Urgent and Emergency Care


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Do you know the difference between the health care services emergency room doctors, primary care providers, and urgent care providers offer? All health care services aren’t created equal, and some can be more appropriate than others depending on the nature of your illness or injury. However, understanding these difference is critical in that it can not only save you money, but may even save your life as well.

Many emergency room doctors harbor concerns over patient confusion in terms of seeking the appropriate level of care for their conditions. In fact, an online poll conducted last year by the American College of Emergency Physicians revealed that the overwhelming majority — 75% — of emergency room doctors are concerned that patients who have true medical emergencies are first seeking treatment at urgent care clinics that are ill-equipped to treat them.

In addition, ninety percent said patients are often redirected to the emergency room due to the severity of their condition, which proved to be more than what an urgent care clinic could treat. Every second counts in terms of a medical emergency, and making this mistake can prove fatal in instances of severe medical emergencies such as heart attacks and stroke.

While urgent care facilities are able to treat a variety of conditions, they are not a replacement for emergency or primary care. Rather, urgent care is designed to evaluate and treat conditions that require immediate medical attention, but are not severe enough to warrant emergency care. Examples of this include rashes, the common cold, the flu, stomach bugs, and even urinary tract infections.

Emergency medical, while similar, should be reserved for true medical emergencies. This can be difficult to determine, especially give the fact that many urgent care centers continue to expand the range of care and services they provide. However, it’s best to err on the side of caution when in doubt, especially if you have an underlying medical condition that my cause further complications.

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