Clinic versus emergency room - what you should know

Getting sick is no fun and mostly just inconvenient.

But depending on what you're sick from, should you schedule a visit with your doctor or stop in the ER?

Whether you're suffering from the flu, which is now widespread across the U.S., or even from a fall on this past week's ice, doctors say it’s important to weigh your options when deciding if you need emergency care or a quick visit to the clinic.

Dr. Chris Solaro with Blessing Health System says there are choices you have when it comes to being sick.

"If your symptoms aren't bad enough that you are having severe symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting that you can't control. Then some of those complaints could be assessed in a clinic rather than the ER where we may be crowded and there may be some wait times," says Dr. Solaro.

He says injuries aren't uncommon during this time of year and he recommends weighing your options when it comes to getting help for injuries.

Dr. Solaro said, "If you are concerned that you may have broken a bone to the point to where you can't walk or function, it's reasonable to be seen by an emergency room physician. Minor aches and sprains, bruises, bumps, those could probably be handled by a clinic."

Dr. Joseph Lane with Blessing Hospital's Walk in Clinic says things of less severity can be taken care of at the clinic.

"Particularly at the convenient care clinics and fast care we basically see like the runny noses, coughs and the ear aches, some flu like symptoms from that aspect, urinary tract infections. Simpler things that don't require a higher level of care,” says Dr. Lane.

Dr. Solaro says if you are unsure on whether to go to the clinic or emergency room, contacting your primary care physician is always an option.

"If you show up to a clinic and the clinic deems that you are too ill to receive care they are going to direct you to the emergency department if they feel that that is indicated,” said Dr. Solaro.

If you don't think you need to venture outside for a visit, Blessing Hospital offers a way for you to get help without ever leaving home - through their app or a computer.

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