ER or Urgent Care for the Flu?

Kenneth Knowles, MD
Medically reviewed by Kenneth Knowles, MDJanuary 2nd, 2020

Every year, somewhere between five and twenty percent of the population contract influenza, or the flu. On average, 200,000 Americans are hospitalized with flu each year. And over ten billion dollars are spent on medical care related to this deadly yet common disease.

If you do have symptoms of the flu, it is important to be tested and start treatment immediately. The medications to help alleviate the symptoms of the flu are best when started within 48 hours of the onset of your symptoms. Delays in diagnosis and treatment may result in prolonging the symptoms and complications of the flu.

In the height of flu season, however, getting an appointment with your general practitioner may be difficult. So what does a sick person do? Most choose one of two options: the local emergency room, or an urgent care clinic. Which is the best route for quality medical care?

The Emergency Room

The emergency department at your local hospital is most likely amazingly good at what they do. They triage and care for tens of thousands of patients each year, and handle an astounding variety of maladies, injuries, and illnesses. Often, ER doctors and nurses are some of the unsung heroes of the medical system. But that doesn’t mean you should run to them every time you feel ill.

The truth of the matter is that although emergency rooms are set up to handle anything, they can’t handle everything at once. ER staffers know that flu season means an influx of patients, sometimes twice the number seen during the rest of the year. This can lead to long waiting lines, sometimes stretching into hours, and overworked medical staff.

Urgent Care

Similarly, your local urgent care clinic is a great place to go when something pops up that needs quick and competent treatment. They tend to be conveniently located in your neighborhood or local shopping area. They’re ready for just about anything, treating illnesses and injuries for everyone from kids to seniors. And they’re an excellent choice for immediate but not life-threatening problems.

But urgent care clinics suffer from the same overabundance of patients during flu season as ERs. Not only that, time spent in the waiting room with patients who are not infected means you could be spreading germs to everyone around.

A Better Option

Surely, there must be a better option than heading to an ER or urgent care for flu treatment.

With DispatchHealth, there is. They travel so the flu doesn’t.

Woman sick on couch receiving medical care from DispatchHealth staff.

This handy service allows you to get an old-fashioned medical house call, using modern technology. Just call 1-866-FLU-CREW and let them know what’s wrong, and they’ll send a medical team to you at home. This means you can relax where you’re most comfortable and not risk spreading germs to everyone in a clinic or waiting room. Once the team arrives, they’ll do a rapid flu test to confirm your diagnosis, then administer medications and any treatments needed. It’s a quick, caring, and convenient way to get quality healthcare from the comfort of your own home.

And DispatchHealth does so much more than just flu care. If you find yourself suffering from any number of ailments from an asthma attack to a sprained ankle, you don’t have to brave a waiting room full of flu patients to get treatment. DispatchHealth can handle any non-life-threatening condition your local urgent care can treat, and some things they can’t. And it’s all done in your home or office with no waiting room involved.

So the next time you feel flu-like symptoms, or need urgent care for other common to complex illnesses and injuries, stay cozy on the couch and get medical care delivered.

If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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