Where should you take your family? Walk-in Care vs. Emergency Room

Lexington Herald-LeaderAugust 16, 2011 

Accidental injuries or sudden illness can leave you wondering where to find treatment. When you need immediate care you are left with two options, going to the emergency room or visiting a walk-in care clinic. Even though your discomfort may lead you to believe you are in an emergency situation, the emergency room is not always the best choice.

Walk-in care clinics offer treatment for minor, non-life threatening injuries or illnesses. A walk-in clinic is ideal for:

  • Sprains, strains and fractures
  • Lacerations
  • Work injury treatment
  • Acute infections
  • Colds, flu or flu-like symptoms, or other acute illnesses

More serious, life threatening, situations require treatment in an emergency room. If you have the following signs, symptoms or injuries it is advised that you go directly to the emergency room:

  • Signs or symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain and shortness of breath
  • Signs or symptoms of a stroke, such as sudden slurred speech or numbness
  • Severe or uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Head trauma with loss of consciousness
  • Children under three months of age with fever  

If you are unsure of which option to use, consider cost, wait time and time of day. When compared to a walk-in care clinic, emergency room visits are often more expensive and the wait can be longer because emergency rooms do not operate on a first come, first served basis. Their system is designed to treat the most serious cases first. Additionally, emergency rooms are open 24 hours a day, while walk-in clinics typically have limited hours.


Gary Cannon, MD, Lexington Clinic family medicine and urgent care physician, said, “Walk-in care is a great option for less serious, acute illnesses and injuries. If you are in question about which treatment facility to use, call ahead and a walk-in care clinic can assist you in making the correct choice.”

It is also important to remember walk-in care facilities and emergency rooms are not a substitute for regular visits to your primary care physician. Routine exams and physicals, as well as, subsequent follow-up care should be scheduled with your primary care physician and specialists, if needed.  


For more information about Lexington Clinic Walk-In Care and each location’s hours, please visit LexingtonClinic.com/walkin. If you are seeking a primary care physician, call our Resource Referral Nurse at (859)258-4362.




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