Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room: How Do You Decide?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:13 January, 2015
LAS VEGAS – The Southern Nevada Health District’s Office of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System is receiving reports of emergency departments experiencing heavier than normal patient volumes and is urging the public to reserve the use of these facilities for emergencies only.
It is important to note that the elderly, or anyone with a chronic medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease or asthma, may be more at risk for complications from illnesses such as the flu. If they have questions about their medical conditions they should speak with a primary care physician for advice about symptoms that may require emergency, urgent or routine care before their condition escalates.
As the flu and other respiratory illnesses continue to circulate in the community it is sometimes difficult for the public to determine whether it is appropriate to go to an emergency department, an urgent care center or a primary care physician. The Southern Nevada Health District is offering guidelines in order to help ensure emergency care remains as efficient and effective as possible to avoid long waits or delayed care.
Symptoms that generally indicate an emergency include:
- Uncontrollable bleeding
- Head injury or broken bones
- Poisoning or suspected overdose
- Inability to breathe or shortness of breath
- Seizure or loss of consciousness
- Persistent chest or abdominal pain or pressure
- Numbness or paralysis of an arm or leg
- Sudden slurred speech, visual changes or weakness
- Intense pain
- Severe reaction to an insect bite, medication or food
If, at any time, you have a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1 or go the closest Emergency Department.
People who are experiencing a situation requiring prompt medical attention, that is not life-threatening, may receive faster care at an urgent care clinic or by scheduling a same-day appointment with their primary care physician, if available.
Urgent care symptoms may include:
- Moderate fever
- Colds, cough or flu
- Bruises, abrasions and minor cuts
- Minor burns
- Eye, ear or skin infections
- Sprains or strains
- Urinary tract infections
- Respiratory infections
Flu shots are still recommended for anyone who has not yet obtained one and the health district has an ample supply of the vaccine. Influenza vaccinations are recommended for anyone over six months of age. Flu shots are especially important for those at high risk of complications from the disease, such as those over age 50 and individuals who suffer from chronic diseases as well as their care givers and household contacts. It takes about two weeks to build sufficient immunity to influenza following a flu shot. Flu season generally peaks in Southern Nevada in February and can continue into May.
Immunizations, including flu shots, are available at all health district locations:
- Main Public Health Center, 330 S. Valley View Blvd.
Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- East Las Vegas Public Health Center, 560 N. Nellis Blvd., Suite E12, Las Vegas
Monday – Friday, 9a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Henderson Public Health Center, 520 E. Lake Mead Parkway, Henderson
Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- North Las Vegas Public Health Center, 955 W. Craig Rd., Suite 103D, North Las Vegas
Monday – Friday, 8a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Mesquite Public Health Center, 830 Hafen Lane, Mesquite
Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. – noon, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
The health district reminds the community to practice good health habits to minimize the spread of disease, including influenza:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Additionally, when you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect their health.
- Stay home when you are sick. Staying away from work, school, and errands when you are sick will help prevent others from catching your illness.
- When you sneeze or cough, use a tissue or the crook of your arm. Covering your mouth and nose prevents the spread and keeps those around you from getting sick.
- Wash your hands frequently. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
Access information about the Southern Nevada Health District on its website: www.SNHD.info. Follow the Health District on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SouthernNevadaHealthDistrict, YouTube: www.youtube.com/SNHealthDistrict, Twitter: www.twitter.com/SNHDinfo, and Instagram: www.instagram.com/southernnevadahealthdistrict/. The Health District is available in Spanish on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TuSNHD. Additional information and data can be accessed through the Healthy Southern Nevada website: www.HealthySouthernNevada.org.