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Health & Wellness

Is It an Emergency? ER vs. Urgent Care

By Lafayette General Health
June 30, 2019

It never fails that an illness or injury pops up when you least expect it.  You may wake up in the middle of the night with a severe cough or stomach pain.  You might fall after work and can no longer apply weight on your swollen foot.  Or, your child’s fever spikes on the weekend when the pediatrician’s office is closed. 


What if you become sick or injured when your doctor’s office is closed, or you can’t get an appointment?


Deciding whether your illness or injury is a true emergency can be hard when you feel sick or are in pain.  The answer is not always simple, but knowing your options could save you a lot of time and money. 


When you experience a sudden illness or injury going to the Emergency Room (ER) is not always your best option.  While all Lafayette General Health (LGH) Emergency Rooms are prepared for every kind of medical emergency, our urgent care clinics are a faster alternative available for non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses. 


“We know medical issues don’t just pop up during normal business hours,” said Claudine Choplin, Lafayette General Urgent Care Clinics Director.  “Our clinics also have evening and weekend hours too.”


For times when your primary care physician’s office is closed, urgent care provides easy access for medical needs that can’t wait for an appointment.  Urgent care sees patients on a walk-in basis with no appointment needed, and minimal wait time.  A common misconception is the ER treats patients on a “first come first serve” basis.  However, the ER actually follows a triage system and treats patients in order of the severity of their condition.  Patients facing life-threatening conditions are seen before those with non-life-threatening conditions, therefore, increasing wait time for many.


A trip to the hospital is not needed for most medical conditions.  However, if you have a common illness or minor injury, you should not wait too long to get medical treatment.


A true emergency is when you believe a severe injury or illness is life-threatening.  If you or an unborn baby could die or be permanently disabled then you need to seek emergency medical treatment in the ER immediately. 


Lafayette General Urgent Care Centers also offer immunizations, such as the flu shot, x-rays, lab draws, annual check-ups and sport physicals on a walk-in basis.  Lafayette General has three Urgent Care Centers located in River Ranch, Sugar Mill Pond and Carencro. 


To learn more about urgent care services and locations, visit our page


When should you seek treatment at Urgent Care? 


If you have any of the following you should go to Urgent Care:   

  • Any cough or cold that does not get better in several days, or a cough that gets worse and is accompanied by a fever 
  • Migraines 
  • Low-grade fevers 
  • Rash, especially if there is a fever 
  • Minor broken bones and sprains 
  • Cuts that might need stitches 
  • Minor burns 
  • Severe or constant vomiting or diarrhea 
  • Animal and insect bites 
  • Allergies/sinus 
  • Headache/stomachache 
  • Earache 
  • Pink eye 

Painful urination 

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