Urgent Care vs. ER: Where Should You Go?
When to Call 911 or Visit the Emergency Room
Emergency rooms are found in most major hospitals and are equipped and ready to handle any and most major medical emergency. This can range from a heart attack, stroke, or even to a car accident. They can handle trauma, most x-rays, and often even surgical procedures, and other life-threatening situations. They are usually open 24 hours a day, seven days of the week. You should call 911 or visit the emergency room if you or a loved one thinks you are experiencing the following:
- Chest Pains
- Constant Vomiting
- Continuous Bleeding
- Severe Shortness of Breath
- Deep Wounds
- Weakness or Pain in Leg or Arm
- Head Injuries
- Any other symptoms relating to a heart attack, stroke, or head injuries
While emergency rooms are equipped and prepared to handle any medical situation, that often comes at a steep price. A visit to the emergency room can cost up to five times as much as the same visit to an urgent care center. There will be non-life-threatening situations where you can visit the urgent care and still receive the same amount of care as the emergency room. Understanding your options now will make decisions easier when you need immediate medical care.
When to go to Urgent Care
Most urgent care centers are equipped and prepared to handle most non-life-threatening conditions, the same conditions, and situations that you may see your primary care physicians for. In Hawaiʻi, we also see how challenging it may be to get an immediate appointment with your primary care physicians, so insurance companies often refer you to visit an urgent care center. In Hilo Urgent Care Center and Keaʻau Urgent Care Center, we are open all days of the week except for major holidays, and we are open a little later after pau hana. We are staffed with doctors, nurses, and access to x-rays.
Some emergency rooms can have hours of wait time and cost more. Consider visiting Hilo Urgent Care Center or Keaʻau Urgent Care Center if you think you are experiencing the following:
- Allergic reactions to foods, animals, or small bug bites
- Flu and Cold
- Coughs and Sore Throat
- High Fevers
- Vomiting, Diarrhea, Stomach Pain
- Cuts and Severe Scrapes
- Broken Bones
- Minor Injuries and Burns
- Sports Injuries