Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care: Where Should You Go?

There was a time when the emergency room was our only option for care outside of our primary care provider’s clinic. If it was after hours or if they didn’t have an appointment and the matter was more urgent, you headed to the closest ER. However, we now have urgent care clinics that can treat many illnesses and ailments, reducing the need for lengthy and expensive emergency room visits for many patients.

Call 911 or Head to the ER

There are still many medical emergencies that require a visit to the ER. In a medical emergency, your best option may be to call 911 so you can get care quickly, even en route to the hospital. Situations like these are often scary, and there’s no doubt you need the services of an emergency department. Some, though, may not be as easy to decide. The following list includes some of the most significant reasons why patients head to the ER.

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Signs of a stroke
  • Serious burn
  • Head trauma
  • Severe bleeding
  • Loss of vision

When Urgent Care May Be a Better Option

For less serious illnesses or injuries, an urgent care clinic may be able to treat you. An urgent care center is equipped to handle x-rays for broken bones, diagnostic tests for illnesses such as the flu and COVID-19, wound care for burns and lacerations and much more. Because urgent care is prepared to treat various issues, this is not a complete list of services offered.

  • Abdominal pain
  • Asthma attacks
  • Wound care for minor lacerations and burns
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Minor bone fractures
  • Sprains and strains
  • Fever, sore throat and general illness

Benefits of Urgent Care

If an urgent care clinic can treat you, what are the benefits of going to one? There are a few, but the most significant is the cost. A visit to an urgent care clinic is much lower than an emergency room, where you could end up with bills of thousands of dollars just for one visit.

Another is the time commitment. Many ERs are at capacity treating patients of varying degrees of illness and injury. You may end up waiting a long time to see a doctor when the wait at an urgent care is typically a few minutes to an hour at most.

We hope we never have to see you about an urgent medical matter, but contact CLEAR Immediate Care if you need care and it’s not serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room. Let us know you are on your way, or let us schedule you with our next available appointment so you can get the fastest treatment possible.