Injuries happen unexpectedly, seriously derail your current schedule, and can put your health in serious danger depending upon the nature of the injury.

Managing injuries can be stressful and downright scary if you’re unsure of how to best pursue treatment. Usually, the best options for treating an injury like a bone break, cut, or sprain involve using the emergency room (ER) or urgent care services.

The terminology for patients can be confusing since urgent care sounds similar to “emergency care.” However, using one service over the other can lead to extreme financial and health detriments.

Using emergency care over urgent care can lead to higher-than-expected healthcare cost and longer waits when urgent care is equally appropriate. Conversely, using urgent care services when an ER is required may lead to delays in treatment for serious or critical injuries.

Here is a great rule of thumb to help you manage your injury treatments and determine the best course of action:

Minor injuries that are painful, but not life-threatening, should be treated at urgent care service

Unless an injury has put you in critical condition, one should rely on urgent care services to address unexpected injuries.

Urgent care centers and similar walk-in clinics have the staff and resources to treat cuts, lacerations, bone breaks, sprains, and bruises within minutes. Appointments at urgent care centers are not necessary so a person can travel to the nearest center for fast treatment.

In addition, urgent care centers provide comprehensive injury care at affordable and inexpensive rates. Patients can usually evaluate the complexity of their injury with x-ray and lab services at a walk-in clinic. An urgent care center is more affordable than an ER with significantly lower wait times.

Any injury that poses a risk to your life requires ER treatment

Urgent care centers help treat individuals for a lot of immediate injury treatments. However, an injury that could lead to serious health complications and death require treatment at an ER.

Emergency rooms can provide on-site life-saving surgery and similar services for individuals that experience critical injuries. Critical injuries include wounds that don’t stop bleeding, ingestion of poisonous/toxic chemicals, gunshot wounds, bone breaks that puncture the skin, and severe choking/asphyxiation.

Treating injuries requires immediate treatment at the proper medical facility. If you believe you are in extreme medical condition then seek ER care. Anything less than a life-threatening injury can, and should, be treated at an urgent care center.