When a crisis happens outside of regular business hours, not all of us have the peace of mind — or the medical training — to immediately decide what kind of care someone needs, such as an emergency room, low cost urgent care or home care. Each has its merits but also its risks.
Urgent Care: When in doubt, this is usually a good place to initially seek treatment. There’s a trained medical staff to treat non-life-threatening injuries or illnesses. There’s usually less of a wait than in busy emergency rooms and if someone’s condition is beyond the staff’s capabilities, they can refer you to a larger medical center. Finally, low cost urgent care is appealing to the pocketbook.
Emergency Room: Quality of care, familiarity with more medical circumstances, and speedy delivery of care and access to advanced resources gives ERs some advantages. However, there is typically a higher cost for services. Busy ERs also prioritize their services, so those with critical needs, such as severe bleeding, receive help ahead of someone with, say, a broken arm.
Home care: Though it’s easy for most of us to prescribe an ice pack, some aspirin, couple of Band-Aids and some good rest, this pretty much taps the majority of our medical skills. About the only advantage of taking care of things at home is that it’s less expensive than low cost urgent care. You might even have to seek more costly care later, especially if someone’s pain increases, a fever doesn’t break or infection grows.