Many parents mistakenly assume that the emergency room is the only place to take their child when an injury or illness arises.

Actually, an emergency room should only be considered when an injury or illness appears life threatening.

Examples of life threatening injuries/symptoms that would warrant an immediate visit to the emergency room include: compound fractures, seizures, major head injuries, severe pains, ingestion of poisons, snake bites, severe burns, chest pains, etc.

As a general rule of thumb, emergency care will usually be warranted anytime:

– something that shouldn’t t be in the body enters the body
– the body is unable to maintain what it needs to survive (like blood or oxygen)
– pain becomes so severe that it interferes with normal day-to-day activities
– a person appears incoherent and not in their usual frame of mind (possible sign of severe heat related injuries or severe head injuries).

Before driving a child to the emergency room or calling an ambulance, parents should ask themselves whether or not their child’s ailments are life threatening.

If the answer is no, it would be best to seek medical attention at an urgent care facility, not an emergency room.

An urgent care facility is meant to supplement the services of a primary care facility.

When an injury or symptom appears non-life threatening, individuals should attempt to contact their primary care physician for treatment first.

In the event that a primary care physician is not available, an urgent care facility is the next best alternative.

When faced with a non-life threatening ailment, urgent care facilities are traditionally less expensive than emergency room services and generally require much less waiting time before patients are allowed to see a doctor.

In emergency room settings, medical staffs are required to service patients based on the severity of their ailments, not their order of arrival into the emergency room, which is why those with non-life threatening ailments in crowded emergency rooms often spend several hours in a waiting area prior to being seen by a doctor.

Unlike emergency rooms, urgent care facilities let patients make appointments to see doctors, eliminating unnecessary waiting periods and letting patients seek medical care with as little interruption to their daily routines as possible.

Since most urgent care facilities operate as independent clinics, each will usually have their own hours of operation and policies as to the acceptance of walk-in patients.

Maintaining a doctor/patient relationship with a primary care provider helps maintain continuity of treatment and accuracy of record keeping.

Anyone who visits an urgent care facility is reminded to alert their primary care physician of the ailment that triggered the visit and any treatment prescribed by urgent care staff.

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