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When should I transfer to an emergency room from urgent care?

Emergency medicine is challenging for both the doctor and the patient. You may be confident that you do not need an ambulance, but then there is the question of whether you need one of the now-popular urgent care facilities or an emergency room at a local hospital.

Often families, friends and insurance companies will suggest that you go to urgent care since the less-advanced facility operates at a lower cost. Also, urgent care can typically see people faster since there are no major traumas that are higher on the priority list.

In some cases, your case may become too complex for an urgent care center. These are some of the signs you should transfer to a hospital emergency room.

A drastic change in health status

In many cases, you may go to an urgent care facility for fast treatment for minor symptoms. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to know how major or minor your symptoms are. Additionally, even minor symptoms can get worse very fast.

Although feeling worse is not necessarily a sign that you need more advanced care, it should make you more aware of your condition and whether you need to transfer to an emergency room. As you notice changes in your health, talk to your medical team about whether urgent care is still the best option for receiving appropriate care.

Keep in mind that symptoms that include the heart, brain and lungs are most important. If you have new or worsening symptoms in any of those systems, you should go to your local hospital for advanced care.

Staff not taking your symptoms seriously

Some symptoms are obvious. Your medical team can easily see burns, wounds, rashes and other similar symptoms.

Other symptoms, like pain or intestinal discomfort, can be difficult for patients to describe and for your medical team to understand. Although you should resist the temptation to overstate what you feel, make sure you are as descriptive as possible when talking to your medical team.

If you notice that the people assisting you at urgent care are dismissing your symptoms, consider how significant those symptoms are and whether you should consult with another person on the staff. You may need to transfer to an emergency room if you cannot get the care and assistance you need.

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