ER vs. Clinic: Which to Choose?

ER vs. Clinic: Which to Choose?

Hospital emergency rooms are stretched thin by almost 130 million visits a year. Many of these visits are triggered by complaints that could be handled more efficiently at same-day clinics or pharmacy care centers. How do you know which to choose?

Visit an emergency room if the following problems occur:

• Persistent chest pain

• Persistent shortness of breath

• Severe pain, especially in the abdomen or the lower back

• Loss of balance or fainting

• Difficulty speaking or thinking clearly

• Sudden, severe headache


On the other hand, most same-day clinics are able to treat these routine health problems:

• Fever (except in the case of a newborn infant)

• Minor trauma such as cuts and sprains

• Urinary tract infections

• Severe sore throat

• Nausea and vomiting

• Minor eye irritation

A clinic will also be able to advise you to go to the emergency room if your condition is more serious than you realize.