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Know When To Go: ER vs. Walk In Clinic

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Illness or injury can strike at any time, anywhere. And when you’re not feeling well, it’s crucial to get the care you need to start feeling better faster. Two options to consider are emergency rooms and walk in clinics.


Knowing when you should visit an ER vs. a walk in clinic can help ensure you get the care you need in the fastest, easiest, and most convenient way. There are distinct differences between when you should go to an emergency room vs. a walk in clinic, so read on to learn more.

When to go to an emergency room

You should go to an emergency room if you’re experiencing emergent, life-threatening, or complex symptoms. You may require fast and/or advanced treatments that are only available in a hospital setting or may need further treatment that would require you to be admitted to the hospital.


Going to an emergency room also offers access to various providers, technology, and services to treat more severe medical concerns. These can include things like:


    • Difficulty breathing or stopped breathing.
    • Severe injury to the:

      • Head (especially when combined with fainting or confusion)
      • Neck
      • Spine
    • Sudden loss of the ability to:

      • Speak
      • Walk
      • See
      • Move
    • Weakness or drooping of one side of the body.
    • Severe pain, including:

      • Chest pain or pressure
      • Pain in the arm or jaw
      • Broken bones
    • Severe wounds, including:

      • Heavy bleeding
      • Deep wounds
      • Burns
    • Severe allergic reaction, especially if accompanied by:

      • Hives
      • Swelling
      • Trouble breathing
    • Vomiting, diarrhea, or a high fever that does not go away with time or medicine.


  • Coughing or vomiting blood.


    • Seizures.


  • Poisoning or overdose.


When to go to a walk in clinic

If you are experiencing a minor, simple, and not life-threatening illness or injury that doesn’t require rapid or advanced treatment, you should go to a walk in clinic. walk in clinics have basic X-ray, imaging, and lab technology to help diagnose and treat minor health conditions, and they are also typically much faster, more convenient, and more affordable.


Consider visiting your local walk in clinic if you’re experiencing things like:



  • Cold, flu, and/or respiratory symptoms, including:


      • Earache
      • Congestion
      • Sore throat
      • Headache
      • Low-grade fever


  • Minor injuries such as:


      • Bruises
      • Minor pain
      • Sprains
      • Strains
      • Minor broken bones
      • Cuts
      • Infections
      • Burns


  • Minor eye issues like:


      • Irritation
      • Pink eye


  • Allergies or minor allergic reactions, including hives and/or rash. 
  • Gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and/or diarrhea.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs).


Final thoughts


When choosing between an emergency room or a walk in clinic, it’s important to consider the severity of your condition and what kind of treatment you need.


If you feel that your condition is life-threatening, an ER visit is your best option for fast, comprehensive care. While a walk in clinic can provide the care you need more conveniently and affordably for minor conditions that don’t require rapid or advanced treatment.


Regardless of your choice, having access to quality medical care is paramount to staying healthy and feeling your best.​

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