Deciding Whether to Go to Urgent Care or a Hospital Emergency Room

Many people are a little confused about when they should go to a hospital emergency room or to a Maui urgent care clinic instead. They want prompt attention for whatever is occurring and don’t feel that waiting for an appointment is appropriate. Is it serious enough to go to the emergency room or not? What conditions and injuries do urgent care clinics treat?

When to Go to ER

The main guideline is that if the problem is potentially life-threatening, the patient should go to the hospital. An urgent care facility is not equipped to handle serious health emergencies like heart attacks or strokes. Breathing difficulties associated with a very serious asthma attack or an allergic reaction also should be treated at a hospital. In fact, for all of these issues, it’s best to call 911 for an ambulance.

Examples of Conditions Treatable at Urgent Care

In contrast, many injuries and other health problems can be diagnosed and treated in urgent care. The problem may have developed outside of regular clinic hours or the person’s own family practice doctor is booked up for a few days.

A person with a seriously sprained ankle, for instance, can receive treatment there. An earache or a sore throat may require prescription antibiotics to cure it. A patient with an itchy, painful rash that has developed due to an encounter with poison ivy or poison oak will find relief with prescription corticosteroids. Prescription cream or ointment can be provided for someone with a second-degree burn that only affects a limited area of the body.

Did a youngster step on a nail with bare feet? Cleaning the puncture wound can be done in urgent care, and a tetanus shot will probably be provided unless one was received somewhat recently. If someone has cut himself with a skill saw and is not bleeding uncontrollably, a trip to this type of facility results in disinfection of the wound and stitches to close it.

Filling the Gap

Clinics like Minit Medical essentially fill a gap between family practice clinics and hospital emergency departments. Usually an appointment is not necessary and the clinic accepts walk-in patients, but the staff members appreciate a phone call first.