handicapped woman discussing with medical staff
  • How to Decide if You Need to Visit an Urgent Care Center or an Emergency Room

  • Published By:
  • Category: Health & Fitness
  • Published Date: October 11, 2022
  • Modified Date: October 11, 2022
  • Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Featured Image Caption: Handicapped Woman Discussing with Medical Staff

When you have a serious medical issue, the last thing you want to consider is figuring out which medical facility is best to go to. You just want help fast. Urgent care centers and emergency rooms can be important in an unexpected health crisis but each of these medical facilities serves a different purpose. Armed with that knowledge, here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to go to the urgent care center vs. the emergency room for your medical needs.

When To Go To The Emergency Room

The emergency room is where you go if you have a serious medical condition or are experiencing a life-threatening situation. Serious medical conditions include chest pain, breathing problems, stroke, uncontrolled bleeding, heart attack, and serious infections like meningitis. Some life-threatening situations include auto accidents with serious injuries, problems during or after pregnancy, or very young or very old people who are unresponsive.

You’ll know you need to go to the ER if you experience symptoms like difficulty breathing, chest pain, a sudden change in vision, extreme dizziness, abnormal bleeding, paralysis, weakness in any part of the body, or a sudden change in your level of consciousness (for example, if you suddenly become unable to understand what is being said to you or you become unable to respond to commands).

When To Go To An Urgent Care Center

Local urgent cares around you are a great alternative to the emergency room for people with non-emergency health issues that need to be addressed immediately — like a sprained ankle or a simple sports injury. These facilities treat a variety of medical issues, with a focus on non-life threatening illnesses and injuries like sprains, broken bones, cuts and scrapes, allergies, minor eye infections, and skin conditions like rashes and insect bites.

Urgent care centers have become a great option for people who have an urgent medical need to see a health care provider — but don’t need immediate medical treatment. Urgent care centers are also a great option for people with a medical condition that could worsen if left untreated. Examples of this include certain types of infections and allergic reactions.

When Going to the Emergency Room Is The Only Option

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, the emergency room is the only place you should go. You should not go to an urgent care center if you are experiencing an emergency. The difference between an urgent care center and an emergency room is that an emergency room is equipped to handle medical emergencies. It’s important to note that not all urgent care centers are equipped to handle emergencies. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, check to ensure the urgent care center you plan to visit is equipped to handle emergencies. If it’s not, go to the emergency room instead. Some common medical emergencies include:

  • Stroke – A stroke happens when the blood flow to your brain is suddenly cut off – either because a blood clot blocks one of the arteries or a blood vessel in the brain leaks or breaks open.
  • Heart attack – A heart attack happens when a clot blocks blood flow to your heart muscle.
  • Seizure – During an epileptic seizure, your muscles may contract uncontrollably, and you may lose consciousness.

Other Situations Where Urgent Care May Be a Good Choice

While there are certainly times when you should go to an emergency room, there are also situations where an urgent care center is a better choice. This may be the case if:

  • You don’t have health insurance
  • The medical condition you’re experiencing is less serious
  • The medical issue you are experiencing is not an emergency

Urgent care centers are often less expensive than emergency rooms if you don’t have health insurance. If you have insurance and suffer from a non-life-threatening condition, it’s also a good idea to go to an urgent care center instead of the emergency room. This is because many health insurance policies cover urgent care but don’t cover visits to the emergency room unless you have an emergency.

Urgent care centers are equipped to treat various non-life threatening conditions and provide a level of care between what your doctor’s office offers and what the emergency room provides. Urgent care centers also have shorter wait times than emergency rooms.

When you are experiencing a medical emergency or an urgent medical condition, the best thing to do is go to the emergency room. An urgent care center is a better choice when you are experiencing a non-urgent medical condition requiring immediate attention. Suppose you have a medical issue that could worsen without immediate attention or a medical condition requiring an immediate diagnosis. In that case, you should go to the emergency room.

Brooke Chaplan

By Brooke Chaplan
who is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home and residing in Los Lunas, New Mexico. Her first passion is journalism, but she also loves hiking and gardening. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking, and gardening. Brooke recommends working with Urgent Care Pros to visit if you are in need of an urgent care clinic.

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