When you or a family member is sick or suffers an injury and needs immediate medical care, it’s not always easy to know if the emergency room (ER) or an acute care facility is the best place to go for help.
At Healthy Life Family Medicine, our team of care providers offers same-day acute care services to patients of all ages in the Goodyear, Arizona, area. Our practice also believes in the importance of patient education, so we’ve put together this post explaining acute care and how to know whether you should visit our clinic or head to the ER.
What is acute care, and what conditions does it treat?
Acute care is a branch of medicine that treats severe, short-term medical conditions. Acute conditions typically come on quickly and need prompt attention, and their treatment and recovery is generally short, unlike chronic conditions that persist for months or years.
Because acute medical conditions vary in their degree of severity, there are different levels of acute care. One type of acute care is the emergency room, which is typically reserved for life-threatening situations that require advanced medical intervention, like injuries after a car accident.
Other acute care takes place on a non-emergency basis, like the services available at Healthy Life Family Medicine. We provide same-day treatment and extended hours for patients with symptoms or injuries that need immediate attention but aren’t medical emergencies, such as:
- Minor cuts and burns
- Flu, cold, or COVID-19
- Strep throat
- Sprains and strains
- Fever and chills
- Rashes and hives
- Nausea and vomiting
- Urinary tract infections
Because we’re a family medicine practice, we help patients of all ages who require medical attention. When you come in for acute care treatment, your provider talks to you about the symptoms you’re experiencing and your medical history and then conducts a physical exam.
Your provider creates a customized treatment plan to help you feel better as quickly as possible. Some patients benefit from a follow-up appointment to check on their recovery.
How can I tell if I need acute care or the ER?
At Healthy Life Family Medicine, we know it’s not always easy to differentiate between conditions that require an ER visit and those that demand same-day, but not critical, attention.
If you or a family member experiences a life-threatening medical emergency, or if you sustain an injury that needs immediate, advanced medical treatment, the right choice is always going to the nearest emergency room or calling 911. Here’s a look at some symptoms and injuries that warrant a trip to the ER:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Experiencing one-sided numbness or weakness
- Slurred speech or sudden changes in mental state
- Serious burns
- Compound or severe fractures
- Severe cuts, head, or eye injuries
- Bleeding when pregnant
- Loss of consciousness
- Serious electrical shocks or lightning strikes
- Most seizures
Keep in mind that in emergency rooms, medical providers must prioritize the most serious, life-threatening conditions first. This means that if you arrive at the ER with a non-life-threatening condition or injury, you may wait hours for treatment.
If you have a condition or injury that isn’t life-threatening but needs attention, like flu symptoms or a sprain, you’re best served by calling our practice to schedule a same-day appointment. Call our friendly staff at 623-889-3477 to get in to see one of our care providers today.