Urgent Care

Urgent Care or ER?

Should you go to an urgent care center or an emergency room? This video explains the difference.

Video Transcript

Lisbeth Roberts – Outreach Manager of SCAN Health Plan:

Hi, I’m Lizbeth Roberts, outreach manager at SCAN Health Plan. As part of my job, I work closely with our Senior Advocates, if you've received a call welcoming you to the plan or to wish you a happy birthday, that was a Senior Advocate on the other end of the line. They call thousands of members each week and answer a lot of questions.

One topic that comes up often is where you go when you need medical care and your doctor’s office is closed, should you go in the emergency room or an urgent care center? The answer is: It depends on your situation. So here’s how to decide.

Senior Advocate #1:

First, the emergency room is for medical emergencies.

Lisbeth Roberts – Outreach Manager of SCAN Health Plan:

An emergency is something that poses an immediate threat to life or long-term health. Some examples are chest pain or pressure, head injuries, seizures, shortness of breath, sudden severe headaches, paralysis or weakness or uncontrolled bleeding. In an emergency, call 9-1-1 or have someone take you to the nearest emergency room. Bring your SCAN member ID card and any important health documents, like a list of your medications. It’s a good idea to find out which hospitals your doctor works with and which one has the closest emergency room. Then see if there are any emergency rooms even closer to you. When time is of the essence, go to one you can get too fastest.

Senior Advocate #2:

If it’s not an emergency, but you need care soon, that’s urgent care.

Lisbeth Roberts – Outreach Manager of SCAN Health Plan:

Urgent care is for things that you need to see the doctor right away. Examples of urgent conditions are back/muscle pain, cuts or minor burns, earaches, fever and flu, sprains or joint pain, bronchitis, urinary tract infection, vomiting and diarrhea. If you need urgent care and it’s during regular business hours, it’s a good idea to call your doctor’s office first and describe your symptoms. You might be able to get a same-day or next-day appointment. Some offices have extended hours just for this type of situation. You may not end up seeing your doctor but the other primary care team members will have your information on hand.

Senior Advocate #3:

For urgent care, you can also go to an urgent care center.

Lisbeth Roberts – Outreach Manager of SCAN Health Plan:

Urgent care centers are medical offices that are set up to treat the types of illnesses and injuries that just can’t wait for a regular doctor’s appointment. And let’s face it: These things often happen over the weekend or when your doctor’s office is close. Urgent care center can provide comprehensive care you need, including lab work and X-rays. So when you need urgent care, go to the urgent care center that works with your doctor. Bring your SCAN member ID card and important health documents, like a list of your current medications.

Senior Advocate #4:

Be prepared. Find out where to go for urgent care before you need it.

Lisbeth Roberts – Outreach Manager of SCAN Health Plan:

Call your doctor’s office to ask these following questions:

First, do you offer urgent appointments or have extended hours for these types of urging care needs? If so, write down the hours.

Second, find which urgent care center your doctor works with. Write down the address, phone number and hours.

Many urgent care centers have websites with its information some even less the wait times. Keep these addresses somewhere you or a loved one can easily find them along with the information you’ll need to bring with you just in case.

We hope this video has answered your questions about when to use an emergency room and when to go to urgent care. If you have any questions about your emergency or urgent care benefits, let us know. Our Member Services team is here to help.

Thank you for choosing SCAN.