By Lynne Adkins

EAST NORRITON, Pa. (CBS) — As “urgent care” centers pop up all over the region, medical providers worry that many people don’t know when to bypass the urgent-care facility and head straight to a hospital emergency room.

The so-called urgent care centers are open early, late, and on weekends, so they  could be your “go-to” medical office when a health crisis arises.

Dr. Richard Lucas, chair of the emergency department at Mercy Suburban Hospital in East Norriton, says they are great for minor trauma, “such as a common sprain or ear infection, flu-like symptoms, minor burns, colds, coughs, sore throats, animal bites — the kind of things you would present to a primary care office for treatment.”


(Dr. Richard Lucas.  Photo provided)

(Dr. Richard Lucas. Photo provided)


But, he warns, if you have a serious situation involving the heart, brain, or a deep cut, bypass the urgent-care facility and go right to the closest emergency room.

“Paralysis, heart palpitations, falls with injuries while taking blood thinners, deep cuts that may require more than suturing, or any kind of conditions in which advanced imaging may be required, such as a CAT scan,” deserve a visit to an emergency room, he says.

He says even though they are called an “urgent” care center, they are really a primary-care doctor’s office.

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