Emergencies and Urgent Care: How to Make the Best Choice in a Hurry
In a crisis, it’s almost always impossible to think things out, including the question “Should I go to an emergency room or an urgent-care clinic?”
That’s why Jared Friedman, MD, an emergency medicine physician with Avera Medical Group, tells everyone to learn the basic differences between emergency and urgent care.
Doing so saves you time, stress and money and also allows professionals like him to focus on true emergency cases.
“Discerning a true emergency is never easy. In many cases, we would prefer for you to err on the side of caution,” said Friedman, who works in the Emergency Department at Avera Medical Group Family Health Center in Sioux Falls. “The emergency room is the No. 1 choice for serious symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath and severe allergic reactions.”
Friedman is also the clinical vice president of Avera’s Emergency Medicine Service Line, and he said minor cuts, as well as the symptoms of cold or flu, can be best addressed at a primary care clinic or Urgent Care.
But the sudden onset of severe pain, serious diabetic complications, or possible stroke – all indicate a case where you should go to an emergency room.
“When a child has an obviously broken bone or a serious burn, go to the emergency department,” said Friedman. “The same is true for deep lacerations, or psychiatric emergencies, where someone might hurt themselves or others. Emergency room employees are well trained to effectively deal with any situation, and many use Avera eEmergency care to help them when that service is needed.”
Friedman said an advantage patients have when they get care from an integrated health system like Avera is that its urgent care professionals can refer patients to an emergency service in the face of a serious condition. Some symptoms are tricky.
“There are cases when conditions seem much worse than they are,” he said. “I’ve seen cases of acid reflux or anxiety that cause heart-attack-like chest pain. We implore everyone: never ignore signals of possible stroke or heart attack. Have them checked out.”
Cold symptoms like fever and chills are best addressed in a primary care clinic. Sprains or muscle strains, or management of chronic conditions also are conditions best handled by your physician.
“A doctor’s visit costs less and reduces the pressure on the emergency teams across our city,” he said. “We realize many times you don’t get sick during clinic hours, and we recommend Urgent Care locations for those times when you can’t see your doctor. If it is something more serious, that team can refer you to an emergency department. It happens on a daily basis for a variety of reasons.”
Friedman said sometimes a condition can wait until the clinic opens the next day, or Monday morning, and he reminds everyone that many Avera clinics offer same-day appointments.
AveraNow is another option. It puts you into a virtual visit with a health care provider via video on a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer.
“We still get many calls to the Avera Medical Call Center, and it can help,” he said. “Anytime you are in doubt or fear for your loved one’s health: go to the local ER. We will help you.”
Call the Avera Medical Call Center 1-877-AT-AVERA, or sign up online for AveraNow.