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

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When serious injury or illness occurs, many people 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 types of immediate care facilities.

What Is an Urgent Care?

An urgent care provides quick, convenient and affordable healthcare. Staffed by board-certified medical providers, they are open every day, including nights and weekends. Appointments are not necessary, but you can reserve online to reduce wait times.

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

Some of the illnesses and injuries treated at an urgent care include:

  • Respiratory illnesses, such as a sinus infection
  • Sore or strep throat
  • 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 issues such as poison ivy or sunburn

What is an Orthopedic Injury Clinic?

An orthopedic injury clinic provides urgent care for children and adult for for issues that affect the 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. On-site services include X-ray, casting, splinting, bracing and injections. If your injury warrants surgery, one can be scheduled for the next day. 

Some of the conditions treated at an orthopedic injury clinic 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 

When To Go To an Emergency Department

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

Visit 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
  • Seizures
  • Signs of heart attack or irregular heartbeat rhythm, such as chest pain or fainting
  • Stroke symptoms, including sudden onset of numbness or weakness of the face or body; confusion; changes in vision; dizziness or loss of coordination
  • Vision loss
  • Nose bleeds that don’t stop
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing or high-pitched breathing sounds
  • A large, distended or rigid belly
  • Bleeding during pregnancy
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Overdose
  • Complications from recent surgery or procedures

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

At University Hospitals, we provide care at every level from on-demand care to emergencies - and everything in between. Making the best healthcare decisions for your family starts with knowing where to go. Learn more.

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