Urgent Care Vs. Emergency Care – Going For Stitches
In case you have cut yourself, your skin will heal on its own. However, if it is a serious cut you might need stitches to allow the skin to heal without infection. Stitches also pull the wound together and make sure it heals nicely. If you have a serious cut, you are probably wondering whether to head to the ER or seek urgent care.
Urgent care can fill in for your regular doctor. These are the routine clinics that provide the injury treatment and medical care that primary physicians would perform in their office. This might include cold and flu care, sprained ankles, and minor cuts that might require stitches.
Emergency departments, on the other hand, are equipped to treat major injuries. They can respond to just about any emergency within the hospital capabilities.
When Do You Need Stitches
Getting stitches entails the healthcare provider assessing your injury, and he will decide if you need stitches or not. In case the healthcare provider decides you will need stitches, he will numb the area and saw the wound with a surgical thread. Getting stitches might be a painless procedure, but it can be difficult to determine if your cut needs stitches. Here are signs to look out for:
- If your cut bleeds for more than 20 minutes even when under direct pressure
- If the cut is deep and gaping
- If the cut area feels numb
- If the cut is jagged and looks like it will have a scar
- If your cut is spurting bright red arterial blood
- The cut is on a joint and deep
- A deep, long facial cut
- Cut with an embedded object
- If the wound is deep in the fingers and hands
- If you have a deep animal or human bite
- If you have a scalp cut
ER Or Urgent Care
If your cut is extremely deep and gaping, you will need to go to the ER. However, cuts that are not so deep can be treated in urgent care facilities. Here are instances that you need to visit urgent care facilities:
- Straight cuts that have edges that you can easily push together
- Shallow facial cuts
- Cuts and abrasions that have embedded dirt
- Animal or human bites that are not very deep
- Cuts that are not serious but were caused by rusty and dirty objects
In case you decide to go to the emergency care or urgent care, there are a few things to remember
- Do not touch foreign objects on the cut
Do not remove any foreign objects such as a piece of metal or stick that is stuck in the wound. The foreign object might have struck an artery, or the object could be blocking the bleeding. Once you remove it, there would be nothing to stop the bleeding, and this can lead to arterial blood loss that can have serious consequences.
- Dirty wounds and bites need special care
In case you have a bite from an animal or a human and the wound is more than a scratch, seek medical attention immediately. Additionally, in case a rusty object caused the wound you also need immediate medical attention. If you are an adult, and you have never received a tetanus injection, or you received one more than ten years ago, you will need one.
Even if the wound is on a child who often will have had a tetanus vaccination, the wound will still need special and immediate medical attention. The physician might also prescribe antibiotics.
- Clean the cut area if you can
If you can, gently clean your wound before going to the emergency department. You can irrigate it with clean water. If you have antibacterial soap or ointment, you can use it too. Do not use hydrogen peroxide as it damages the tissue
- Avoid drinking and eating if you are going to the ER for stitches
Doctors advise against giving your child anything to drink or eat when going to the ER. A child might need to be sedated before the stitches, as most children will not stay still during the process. In case they have eaten or drunk something, this can delay the treatment.
- Apply direct pressure on the cut and elevate
On your way to the hospital, you can seek assistance in applying direct pressure and elevating the wounded area. This will help stop or slow the bleeding. It is also recommended that the patient should remain calm and drive safely in case they are alone. If you can’t drive, seek assistance as it is best to reach the ER safe rather than cause an accident or be stopped for over speeding.
If the cut has no tissue showing, it is not deep or contaminated you will probably need to treat it at home. Remember to irrigate it first and use an antibiotic soap and the bandage to dress it. At Frontline ER we discourage patients from using Steri-Strips. If the wound is large enough to need Steri-Strips, it would be better to go and get stitches. If you are caring for your wound at home, keep it clean, and constantly reapply antibiotic ointment. You also need to bandage it a few times each day. Monitor the wound healing. If you are concerned it is not getting better, or you notice that it is getting worse contact a doctor.
If you or your loved one has a deep cut that is contaminated, visit Frontline ER for emergency treatment. Our experienced and skilled specialists will assess your wound or cut and give you the best care in the industry.