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Hurt Or Sick? Check Out These Options Before Rushing to the ER

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Hurt or sick? Think about your options before rushing off to the emergency room: More people than ever before are taking their unexpected illness or injury to an urgent care center or retail health clinic. (This may also be a good idea when your regular provider is unavailable, like when you’re traveling.) In addition to cutting the wait time for medical treatment, these options can also be cheaper and more convenient. Urgent care centers and retail health clinics are popping up all over the country — according to the Urgent Care Association of America there are currently approximately 9,000 — and offer all levels of care.

What services are available through urgent care centers and retail health clinics?

An urgent care center can handle medical issues that need attention, but aren’t as severe as emergencies. (Note: Urgent care is never meant to take the place of your primary care provider.) The centers employ board-certified doctors, plus physician assistants and nurse practitioners, who can treat less serious conditions (cuts and bumps, sinus and ear pain) and even administer stitches and X-rays. Another benefit is that you don’t need an appointment and they are often open on nights and weekends.

Perhaps even more convenient is a retail health clinic, which also welcomes walk-ins. Health clinics are usually located in a pharmacy, grocery store, or large retail store (e.g. CVS Minute Clinic) and typically employ certified nurse practitioners who can diagnose minor injuries and uncomplicated illnesses like fevers and colds. The clinics and can also provide preventative care procedures like flu shots and blood pressure screenings.

Of course, there are always times that you should head straight to the ER:

1. Severe shortness of breath or chest pain
2. Sudden or unexplained loss of consciousness
3. Sudden and severe abdominal pain
4. A cut or wound that won’t stop bleeding
5. A life-threatening injury or condition

And as a general rule of thumb: If you are ever in doubt or if you have an underlying condition that could potentially complicate a diagnosis, it’s best to play it safe and head to the ER.

Find more information on how Independence Blue Cross can be a part of your plan for health and wellness.


Sponsor content is created for IBX by Philadelphia magazine as a marketing collaboration with IBX. This material is intended for reference and information only and should not be used in place of advice from a doctor or suitable qualified healthcare professional.