Help, I’m injured! Should I go to a walk-in clinic or the ER?

For minor injuries, a walk-in clinic can save you time and money.

It doesn’t matter if you got tackled too hard in football practice, or you tripped on a stray sock and fell down the stairs—accidents are an inevitable part of life.

Unfortunately, treatment in a hospital’s emergency department can cost significantly more than the same care in your doctor’s office. But when a possible broken bone or sports injury requires immediate attention, the Emergency Room might seem like your only choice. Luckily, some walk-in clinics, like Ascendant Orthopedic Alliance’s AscendantOrthoNow, provide same day walk-in services for orthopedic injuries.

How do you know when an injury can be seen at a walk-in clinic, or when it warrants a trip to the ER? Follow these guidelines:

Go to a walk-in clinic if the injury meets any of the following:

  • You have a bone, joint, or muscle injury that occurred within the past few days.
  • You suspect an ankle, foot, wrist, or joint is sprained.
  • One of your bones is potentially broken, or a ligament is torn.
  • You have an injury to the hand, wrist, or shoulder.
  • A joint is swollen.
  • A new sports injury occurred.
  • You’re suffering from recent back pain.

Go to the Emergency Room if the injury meets any of the following:

  • An animal bit you.
  • Your skin is burned.
  • Your bone is visibly broken, protruding through the skin, or you have multiple fractures.
  • The wound is open or bleeding.
  • You have a head injury or concussion.
  • You’re suffering from a cold, flu, or respiratory issue.
  • A severe allergic reaction is present (trouble breathing, swelling, hives, or rashes).
  • You are coughing or throwing up blood.

Walk-in clinics usually accept most insurances, have onsite access to x-rays, MRI, and casting/bracing services.

So, unless the injury is life-threatening, it’s usually more time-convenient and cost-effective to visit a walk-in clinic instead of the ER. It’s estimated that the average urgent care visit ranges from $50 to $150, depending on your co-pay and level of treatment, while average ER costs can range from $1,000 to $2,000. Plus, Emergency Rooms treat patients based on the severity of their injury or condition—the average wait time from arrival to departure is a whopping two hours and 15 minutes. You’ll be in and out of most urgent cares within 30 minutes.

Do you have an injury that needs urgent attention? See an orthopedic specialist today at the Ascendant OrthoNow Walk-in Clinic. Call 574-247-9441 or visit for more information.