Urgent Care, Orthopedic Injury Clinic or ER: Where To Go For Care

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Urgent care, orthopedic injury clinic, emergency room ... when serious injury or illness occurs, it can be tough to figure out the best and most appropriate place to get immediate medical care. Many people would head straight to an emergency room. But that may not be the best choice for your condition – or your wallet.

An estimated 13 percent to 27 percent of emergency department visits in the United States could be managed instead in physician offices, clinics and urgent care centers, at a savings of $4.4 billion annually.

Read on to learn about the differences among these three distinctive types of immediate care facilities.

What Is an Urgent Care?

An urgent care provides quick, convenient and affordable health care. Staffed by board-certified medical providers, they are open every day, including nights and weekends. Appointments are not necessary, and you can reserve your place in line ahead of time online, to cut down on waiting in the reception area.

An urgent care can handle non-life-threatening illnesses and minor injuries for adults and children – and there is a significant cost-savings when compared to a visit to the emergency room. On-site services include X-ray and lab.

Here are some of the common illnesses and injuries that you can have treated at an urgent care:

  • Respiratory illnesses, such as a sinus infection
  • Sore or strep throat
  • Back pain or strain
  • Bladder and kidney infections, such as a urinary tract infection
  • Earaches, such as an ear infection or swimmer’s ear
  • Eye irritations and infection
  • Gastrointestinal illness, such as a stomach ache, food poisoning, diarrhea or emesis
  • Minor injuries and accidents
  • Sprains, strains, bumps and bruises
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Suspected fracture
  • Skin and nail problems such as poison ivy or sunburn

What is an Orthopedic Injury Clinic?

An orthopedic injury clinic provides urgent care for children and adult for orthopedic needs, which concern your bones, joints or muscles. These specialized clinics offer specialized diagnosis and prompt treatment by trained orthopedic specialists.

An orthopedic injury clinic is the ideal place to go for serious injuries such as broken bones, sprains and strains. You can simply walk in – no appointment is needed. And the cost is much less than going to an emergency room.

One significant advantage of an orthopedic injury clinic is that if your injury warrants surgery, one can be scheduled for the next day. On-site services include X-ray, casting, splinting, bracing and injections.

If you have a sudden serious injury as the result of an accident, sport or other intense physical activity, consider an orthopedic injury clinic. Some of the orthopedic and sports injuries treated there include:

  • Broken bones, sprained wrists or ankles
  • Fractures and dislocations
  • Sprains and strains
  • Joint and tendon pain
  • Acute back and neck injuries
  • Sports-related injuries
  • ACL tears/knee pain
  • Muscle injuries
  • Tendon and ligament injuries

The Difference Between an Urgent Care and an Orthopedic Injury Clinic

While both provide immediate care at a lower cost than an ER for injuries, the orthopedic injury clinic specializes in care of joints, bones and muscles. So you will see and receive care from an orthopedic specialist who is trained to treat a specific range of injuries.

An orthopedic clinic also has a wider inventory of medical equipment immediately available for your injury, such as boots, slings and braces.

When To Go To an Emergency Department

The time to go to an emergency room is when you have a life-threatening condition or are experiencing severe symptoms such as chest pain or a drooping face.

Any symptom that is extreme or not relieved with an over-the-counter medicine, such as severe vomiting or headache, suggests a trip to the emergency room.

Head for the nearest ER when you feel symptoms such as:

  • Very high or very low vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate and temperature
  • Altered mental state
  • Seizures
  • Stroke symptoms, including sudden onset ofo numbness or weakness of the face, arm or legs, especially on one side of the body; confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes; trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Vision loss
  • Nose bleeds that don’t stop
  • Severe swelling of the mouth, the inability to swallow liquids or high-pitched breathing sounds
  • Signs of heart attack or irregular heartbeat rhythm, such as chest pain or fainting
  • Shortness of breath with minimal exertion or wheezing
  • A large, distended or rigid belly
  • Bleeding during pregnancy or labor
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Major trauma
  • Overdose
  • Complications from recent surgery or procedures
  • Any problem requiring a medical or surgical specialist

Not an Emergency? Consider Virtual Visits

University Hospitals virtual visits provide a convenient, simple way to see a clinician without having to go into a doctor's office. This option is available 24/7 for non-emergency conditions such as allergies, digestive problems, flu, respiratory issues, skin conditions, sore throats and more.

Our virtual visit services include online video and telephone appointments. With virtual visits, you can access many of the same services you receive during a traditional in-person appointment. These include remote symptom monitoring, diagnosis and treatment, prescriptions  and other medical services.

Related Links

If you have a broken bone or an injury that needs immediate attention, University Hospitals has four walk-in orthopedic injury clinics across Northeast Ohio that fast-track your care with one hassle-free visit – and without multiple appointments or a pricey trip to the ER. Learn more about walk-in orthopedic injury clinics at UH.

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