ER or urgent care? Golden Rule pros swear by
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Imagine this: You cut vegetables with the mandolin for dinner and you cut yourself badly; you can’t stop the bleeding on your own, and the kitchen starts to look like a horror movie set. You need medical attention, stat, but should you point your car in the direction of the nearest emergency care, or is this an ER case?
“Pink eye would be a good reason to go to the emergency room, while breathing difficulties or problems related to early pregnancy would justify a visit to the emergency room.”
-Dr. Cameron Berg/Health North Memorial
Knowing where to go when you need care can be tricky: what constitutes an emergency and what is best treated in emergency care? Where to go if your child has broken their arm or you’ve had a particularly bloody dust with a kitchen utensil? What if you wake up with itchy, itchy red eyes?
“If your injury or illness needs to be treated quickly but isn’t life threatening, get emergency care,” says Dr. Cameron Berg, an emergency physician at North Memorial Health. “Pink eye would be a good reason to go to the emergency room, while breathing difficulties or problems related to early pregnancy would justify a visit to the emergency room.”
ERs are open 24/7/365, but that doesn’t mean you have to treat them like a walk-in clinic. “ERs are for more complex and critical needs, like uncontrolled bleeding, chest pain, difficulty breathing, burns, strokes, mental health crises, poisonings, etc.,” says Berg.
“Urgent care is care that could be provided by your regular provider but is urgent or urgent,” says Berg. This is ideal when you need medical attention at the weekend or in the evening.
Urgent care can treat many minor illnesses and injuries, including:
• Bladder infections. Providers will test your urine and treat you with antibiotics if necessary.
• Minor illnesses. Your local emergency care can treat strep throat, sinus infections, symptoms of COVID-19, colds and flu, earaches, and pink eye, among other minor illnesses.
• Sports injuries, sprains, fractures and dislocations.
• Minor burns, rashes and bites. Major burns should be treated in the emergency room, as should major allergic reactions.
Learn more about our Annual health guide in the November issue of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine or here.