Choosing Between the ER and Urgent Care

Deciding whether to go to the hospital emergency room (ER) is often a clear-cut decision.
Choosing between the ER and Urgent Care will help you understand your options to make decisions easier when you need immediate care.

If you have a non-urgent condition such as fever, flu symptoms, minor cuts, animal bites, allergic reactions, broken bones – your best choice would be an urgent care center and would be far better for time and cost.

If you have a serious medical condition such as stroke, heart attack, electrical shock, severe burns – the resources and services available at an ER would make that a far better choice.

Although urgent care or retail clinics are not able to take care of emergencies, they are staffed to handle conditions that require fast medical attention.

What is the difference between the local hospital’s ER and an Urgent Care Center?

An emergency room (ER) is an area of a hospital that treats people who need critical medical attention for sudden illnesses, serious traumas, and other health-related emergencies.

An urgent care center is ready to treat the less serious, more common ailments and conditions that also need prompt care from doctors or clinicians.

People do not need to make appointments at either an ER or urgent care center; they can just walk right in and be seen. ER’s are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and while urgent care centers are not generally open around the clock, they are staffed beyond the hours of most primary-care practices and include evening and weekend hours. In addition, they are also located in the communities of the people who need the help, so they are very convenient.

Urgent care centers can treat children and the elderly in many circumstances for the same minor illnesses and conditions for which teens and adults are treated. However, infants who are less than 2 months old and seniors who are extremely fragile should go straight to an emergency department.

Generally if you feel that someone has life-threatening injuries or symptoms, then the choice is straight-forward which is to head to ER. If it’s not, then an Urgent Care should be able to take care.

Occasionally, it might be difficult to know some ailments and symptoms and only trained medical personnel could make the call. If it’s too close to call, going to an emergency room would be the best decision.

There is no definitive list of ailments that demand to be treated at emergency rooms. If the condition can be life-threatening or endanger your life, it is an emergency.

Patients with chronic needs such as depression or diabetes need to be seen by a primary care physician.
If you need more information choosing between the ER and Urgent Care, visit ER or Urgent Care.