Accidents happen. That’s just life. Sometimes those accidents are minor. Sometimes they are critical. Once an accident happens, questions arise. Emergency Department or Urgent Care? What level of care do I need?
When you have an urgent medical need, you have one priority: getting treatment as soon as possible.
Traditionally, the emergency department has been where you go for quick medical attention. However, emergency departments can become overcrowded, resulting in long wait times.
This is why urgent care centers, like OSF PromptCare, were created – to handle less serious urgent medical needs and reduce waiting times for everybody.
It’s helpful to understand what types of resources are available, so you can make an educated guess about which level of care is right for your urgent medical need. Making the right choice is critical for delivering the right care at the right time.
Urgent care is most suited for non-life threatening injuries or illnesses, while emergency rooms – typically open 24 hours per day – can provide treatment for more serious illness or injury.
General Guidelines for Choosing your Level of Care
- Animal/insect bites or stings
- Bladder infection symptoms like fever, pain, and foul odor of your urine
- Conjunctivitis or eye infections
- Cuts requiring stitches
- Ear pain
- Minor foreign body removal
- Minor asthma symptoms
- Minor burns
- Minor abscesses
- Puncture wound needing tetanus shot
- Skin rashes
- Sprains, strains or possible broken bones
- Stitches or staple removal
Emergency Department or call 911
- Chest pain or chest pressure
- Severe burns
- Abdominal pain
- Sudden, severe headache
- Head injuries
- Respiratory distress, like shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Seizures and convulsions
- Decreased level of consciousness
- High fever – especially in children
- Life-threatening injury
- Loss of limb
- Signs of stroke, like sudden numbness, weakness, loss of consciousness
- Signs of heart attack, like pain in the chest, arm or jaw
Convenient Urgent Care Locations to Serve You
OSF HealthCare and Physicians Immediate Care formed a joint venture in November 2017 to create more convenience and access points for patients.
The move provides needed care in a lower cost setting than an emergency department, and improves care coordination among providers.
The move supports both organizations’ efforts to most effectively manage the care of the patients they serve.