What are the Differences between Urgent Care & the ER?

May 23, 2017
What are the differences between urgent care and the ER
What are the differences between urgent care and the ER

When unexpected injuries or illnesses occur, patients are faced with an important choice: visit an emergency room or an urgent care facility. To ensure that you make a wise decision, consider the following facts about these two unique services.

Which Is Most Appropriate?


While they both provide timely, expert care for minor and potentially serious ailments, ERs and urgent care centers are quite different. While ERs provide care for life-threatening injuries or illnesses, urgent care centers offer convenient, professional medical attention for everything from the flu and common cold to minor burns, broken bones, sprains, cuts and allergic reactions.


Unfortunately, many people visit the ER for non-life-threatening ailments that are easily treated at a less expensive urgent care facility. When this occurs, the costs can be astronomical. While the average price of urgent care treatment comes to around $185, the average ER visit costs nearly $1,000. ER visits are also much less convenient, since they force 87.5 percent of patients to wait over an hour for treatment. On the other hand, urgent care centers are able to see nearly 90 percent of all patients in less than one hour. That can make a big difference for busy people who are in serious discomfort.


Making the Right Choice


While urgent care facilities offer professional, convenient medical attention for numerous health issues, they aren’t right for every situation. To make sure you make a smart, cost-effective decision, consider the following guide when seeking treatment for a specific ailment:

Urgent Care Centers Are Appropriate for

  • Minor eye injuries
  • Minor fractures
  • Minor cuts and burns
  • Back pain
  • Sprains
  • Minor Rashes
  • Low-grade fevers
  • Migraines
  • Sore throats
  • Earaches
  • Influenza
  • Colds
  • Mild to moderate asthma exacerbations
  • Ear Wax Removal

Emergency Rooms Are Appropriate for

  • Seizures
  • Overdoses
  • Persistent diarrhea or vomiting
  • Very high fevers
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Extreme pain
  • Coughing or throwing up blood
  • Serious burns, severe bone breaks and deep wounds
  • Severe bleeding
  • Poisonings
  • Sudden dizziness, confusion, drooping, weakness or other stroke symptoms
  • Trouble walking, seeing, or talking
  • Unusually severe head pain
  • Head injury with loss of consciousness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Symptoms of cardiac trouble
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Moderate abdominal pain

When it comes to choosing an appropriate treatment facility, everyone wants the best care. That said, many people are surprised to learn that urgent care facilities provide the exact same level of care as ERs for countless minor ailments. To avoid astronomical and unnecessary costs, it pays to make an intelligent plan of action long before injuries or illnesses occur.

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