When an accident happens at work, you know medical care is needed fast. But what if you’re not sure if it’s a true emergency? While the answer is not always simple, knowing the difference between urgent care and emergency care and where to seek treatment could save a life in an emergency.
For conditions that aren’t life-threatening, you may be able to save time—and money—by going to your local urgent care facility. These freestanding walk-in centers usually offer extended hours, and their doctors can treat non-life-threatening medical situations, perform basic X-rays and lab work, and dispense prescriptions. These include minor traumas such as cuts, sprains, eye injuries, insect bites, and simple fractures. Patients are usually seen on a walk-in basis, and many centers have extended hours.
Emergency rooms are not always the fastest choice for medical care needs—and certainly not the most cost-effective. The emergency department was designed to provide life-or-limb-saving care. Many people, however, use the ER as a place to receive urgent care without realizing it. If you’re ever in doubt, it’s better to be safe and go to the closest ER. These are just a few of the conditions that are medical emergencies:
- Broken bones or dislocated joints
- Deep cuts that require stitches – especially on the face
- Bleeding that won’t stop or a large open wound
- Serious burns
Sometimes driving an injured worker to the emergency room won’t get you the medical care needed fast enough. For certain very serious injuries, such as:
- Fall from severe heights
- Crushing injury to the torso which may include organ damage
- Amputation of limb(s)
- Serious head trauma or unconsciousness
- Heart attack or stroke
In these critical situations, call 9-1-1! Taking an ambulance is safer because paramedics can deliver life-saving care on the way to the hospital.