Authored by Tom Betar

5 ways to give the ER the cold shoulder this winter

November 7, 2023 | Family MedicineUrgent Care

The Emergency Room should be reserved for life-threatening issues. As the holidays approach, here are 5 seasonal issues that don’t warrant an ER visit.

As the holidays approach, the last thing you need is a large Emergency Room (ER) bill for something that could have been addressed in a most cost-effective setting like Primary Care, Urgent Care, or via telehealth.

The ER should be reserved for issues that are life-threatening or could cause permanent disability or the loss of a limb. With cold weather settling in, here are five seasonal issues that generally don’t warrant an ER visit.

Slips and Falls

The CDC reports that about 1 million U.S. adults are injured due to slips and falls every year, with the injury rate increasing significantly as temperatures decline. Most of the resulting injuries can be treated more quickly and at a lower cost at Urgent Care. Revere Health Urgent Care Centers are also equipped to treat broken bones, and you will save money by getting your imaging done at Urgent Care instead of the ER.

Mild Burns

Christmas lights, trees, fireplaces, stovetops, backyard bonfires, hot drinks, candles, and more all contribute to an increase in household burns around the holidays. You can treat a mild burn at home by running it under cold water, applying a lubricant like petroleum jelly, covering it with a sterile bandage, and taking over-the-counter medication for the pain. The use of ice is NOT recommended. If home remedies aren’t effective, Urgent Care can treat first and second-degree burns.

The Common Cold (Flu)

Flu activity in the United States peaks between December and February. To protect yourself and others, Revere Health recommends getting vaccinated against the flu and other respiratory diseases (including COVID-19 and RSV). If you develop flu-like symptoms, a same-day Primary Care appointment (available at many Revere Health family medicine offices) or a telehealth appointment are good options in lieu of an ER visit.

Dehydration

While more common in the summer, dehydration can impact you during winter as well. This is because heated indoor air is very dry, and when you go outside you can sweat through your clothes without realizing it, leading to fluid loss. You can generally manage dehydration at home by drinking fluids containing electrolytes (but not caffeine or alcohol). If needed, most Revere Health Urgent Care locations offer IV fluid services to treat dehydration. Severe dehydration can be life-threatening and thus would warrant an ER visit.

Rashes and Skin Irritation

Because cold air doesn’t hold water as well as warm air, our skin can easily become dry and flaky during the winter months, resulting in a rash or irritation. Most winter rashes can be managed at home by proper hydration. This includes applying oil-based moisturizing creams, using a room humidifier to increase moisture in the air, or wearing a cotton fabric to protect sensitive skin. Revere Health offers expert dermatology services if your rash doesn’t clear up or gets worse.

PURE Care

As you consider where to go for care this winter and beyond, we encourage you to follow the PURE Care Model outlined below:

  1. Primary Care
  2. Urgent Care
  3. Reassess (if the preceding options are unavailable)
  4. Emergency Room

Seeking medical treatment in this order can help ensure you get the right care at the right time in the right place. This will ultimately save you time and money and lead to better health for this holiday season and for many more to come.

Tom Betar

WRITTEN BY:

Tom Betar

Tom Betar currently serves as Revere Health’s Communications Manager. Tom earned his bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Utah where he studied print journalism and marketing. Tom focuses on producing written content in a variety of formats and developing strategy for both internal and external communications at Revere Health. His professional work experience includes email marketing, social media management, news writing/reporting, and content creation. Outside of work, Tom enjoys traveling to his hometown of St. George as well as playing basketball and going to concerts/plays with his wife.

Telehealth is not appropriate for every medical concern, so it’s important to ask your provider whether a virtual visit is suitable for your needs.

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.