Emergency Room

Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room – Differences, Where Should I Go?

You are chopping onions in the kitchen, and you get distracted by the news. You accidentally cut yourself. The pain is not too bad, but the cut seems pretty deep. Should you go to the emergency room (ER)? Or would an urgent care clinic suffice?

This is the challenge many people face. Several urgent care centers are springing up around the country, but not many people understand what differentiates them from an emergency room. In what situation is a visit to the ER a necessity? 

We answer these questions in this article. 

What is Urgent Care?

Urgent care or walk-in clinic is a medical establishment that provides various medical services for the convenience of its patients. Some urgent care centers are open 24/7 and are designed to treat minor injuries or urgent but not life-threatening illnesses. Because urgent care is a walk-in clinic, you don’t usually need an appointment. 

However, you should note that because there is no need for an appointment before you visit urgent care, the waiting time may be longer. 

Common services available at urgent care centers include sick visits, immunizations, routine medical checkups, allergic reactions and asthma, colds and flu, pink eye, ear infections, and minor surgeries. In general, the cost of urgent care is more affordable than that of a visit to a hospital emergency room (ER).

Back to our initial example, if you have cut yourself with a knife and you’re not in too much pain, then a visit to any urgent care clinic around your neighbourhood is perfect. 

What is an Emergency Room (ER)?

An emergency room is a department in a medical establishment tasked with providing medical care to patients with life-threatening injuries or illnesses

Because of the severity of emergency room cases, ERs are usually located in significant establishments such as hospitals and facilities where access to sophisticated medical equipment is available. 

Also, like urgent care, you don’t usually need an appointment to visit. However, there are cases where an ER doctor may give you an appointment if you have been receiving treatment. 

The nature of the ER is to attend to every severe health problem regardless of the patients’ financial ability. In fact, under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), anyone reporting to an emergency room is required to receive treatment regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. Still, its funding has remained a sham since 1986.

Some of the cases that will require a trip to the ER include a heart attack, stroke, severe head injury, loss of vision, sudden breathing problem, chest pain, loss of consciousness, and uncontrolled breathing.

What is the Difference Between Urgent Care and ER?

An urgent care facility differs from an emergency room based on the severity of health problems. Go to the emergency room if the condition is life-threatening.

If it is a minor illness or injury, visit an Urgent Care near you for convenience and affordability!

Final Word

Now you know the difference between an emergency room and urgent care. Both the ER and urgent care clinics provide appropriate medical treatment, but an ER is better than urgent care for severe cases.