Urgent Care Vs. Emergency Room – How To Know Where To Go

It’s an inevitable part of life that we or our loved ones will experience accidents, injuries or illnesses at some point. Where we decide to go for treatment can make a big difference in our health & financial responsibility.

According to the CDC, one in five Americans report making a trip to the emergency room at least once in a year. But are all of those expensive E.R. visits really necessary? How do you know when to go straight to the E.R. (or call 911) or when to make a same day appointment at your local Urgent Care Center?
The differences between ‘Emergency’ and ‘Urgent’ care can be confusing, because both terms imply there is a medical need that needs to be addressed quickly. However, there are distinct differences between hospital Emergency Rooms and traditional Urgent Care centers, including the level of care that can be provided at each. The most important difference between the two lies within this simply question: “Is it a life threatening or non-life threatening health condition?”
Here are some examples of life-threatening conditions:
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Seizure or loss of consciousness
  • Chest pains
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe Burns
  • Suspected overdose or poisoning
  • Sudden paralysis or slurred speech
  • Broken bones (potentially) near vital organs
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Coughing up blood
Here are the most common non-life threatening medical conditions (often treated at an Urgent Care Center):
  • Colds & sinus infections
  • The flu
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Earaches
  • Sore throats
  • Upper respiratory Infection
  • Rashes or skin irritations
  • Sprains & Strains
  • Lacerations
  • Minor broken bones
  • Conjunctivitis
Emergency Room costs are nearly four times the amount of an Urgent Care Center. So, if youare not experiencing a life threatening emergency, your wait times are also far longer than usual as the E.R. Department will treat patients according to the severity of their current health condition.
Therefore, if you ever find yourself or a loved one in a non life threatening situation, save yourself the extra time and money by visiting your local Urgent Care Center.