Immediate Care vs. the Emergency Room
When a loved one feels ill or gets hurt, you have to quickly decide where to take them for medical care. It’s important to understand the difference between an Immediate (Urgent) Care Center and a hospital’s Emergency Room, and when to choose one over the other.
“A person should visit an Immediate Care Center when they have a general feeling of safety but can’t be accommodated by their primary provider and don’t want to delay having their symptoms evaluated,” said Kimberly Smith, RN, BSN, Manager of Immediate Care and Occupation Medicine at Morris Hospital. “Immediate Care focuses on episodic care for non-life threatening conditions.”
In the immediate care setting, the medical team’s goal is to evaluate the patient, use basic diagnostic tools, and be able to discharge the patient with complete education and treatment.
By contrast, the Emergency Room is geared for life-threatening illnesses or symptoms that cause the patient to not feel safe.
“If a patient has chest pain, loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing, or numbness and weakness, we want them to go to the ER,” added Smith. “The Emergency department can manage emergencies, offer advanced testing capabilities, and utilize on-call specialists if necessary.”
Immediate Care Centers are best for patients experiencing minor illnesses and injuries that need prompt care.
“Patients with cold and flu symptoms, sore throats, rashes, insect stings, and simple lacerations are appropriate for an Immediate Care Center,” said Smith. “We also treat injuries like sprains, strains, and simple fractures.”
Smith has seen patients come to the Immediate Care Center at Morris Hospital when they should have gone to the ER instead.
One example is children under age 2, with a fever over 104 degrees. They need specialized care and should go straight to an ER,” said Smith, adding that Morris Hospital’s ER is designated as an Emergency Department Approved For Pediatrics, “It’s always best to err on the side of caution.”
For more information, please contact:
Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers
150 West High Street
Phone: (815) 705-1300