Urgent care facilities are excellent because they let you get same-day medical assistance without attempting to schedule an appointment with your doctor first. This ability is especially helpful for people who need to be seen after typical business hours. Because both medical facilities can treat you faster than waiting for an appointment, how do you know when to go to urgent care and when to go to the emergency room?

Urgent Care Centers Don’t Offer the Same Experience as an Emergency Room

Urgent care centers treat things that need help today, rather than waiting a day or two. However, the problems they treat are not considered true, life-threatening emergencies. These include severe cold and flu symptoms, broken bones, earaches, sinus infections, fevers or vomiting that won’t stop, sudden rashes, cuts requiring stitches, and more. In these cases, getting help from urgent care will be much faster than waiting in an emergency room. Additionally, the bill has a higher chance of being much cheaper than emergency room bills. In many urgent care centers, patients are able to see a doctor within less than an hour, with roughly 57% of patients waiting less than 15 minutes to be seen.

Emergency Rooms Are Larger With More Equipment

An emergency department is more extensive and has more specialists, nurses, departments, and laboratories. With so much help available, emergency departments often have a whole hospital’s worth of patients needing attention. Because of this, they are set up to serve true, life-threatening emergencies. These situations can include heart attacks, trouble breathing, sudden slurring of words, having a stroke, or being impaled by a knife, bullet, or another object. Doctors on-site at these establishments can also fix damage to the eyes, compound fractures, severe bleeding, and other severe situations.

Emergency rooms take cases in the order of most life-threatening to least life-threatening. It is not unusual for specialists to take long periods to respond, which can cause worry and frustration. It might be challenging or even impossible to get a specialist’s opinion on a difficult or excruciating problem, and receiving lab tests back promptly can be a problem. These factors all contribute to longer wait times at emergency rooms.

How to Tell Where to Go

In conclusion, going to the emergency room is a more viable option if you’re experiencing severe medical symptoms. You’ll know it’s severe because the person experiencing the emergency cannot function normally anymore, may be in extreme pain, is bleeding profusely, is disorientated, or may have a combination of injuries where you’re considering calling an ambulance. If your medical condition isn’t life-threatening and doesn’t require immediate attention, then an urgent care clinic may be better suited for your needs.