Many patients get confused about differences between “urgent care” and medical emergencies, which can lead to unnecessary long waits and high costs for medical services.

Urgent care by its most basic definition is when a patient is experiencing a discomforting illness or painful injury that requires immediate care but does not qualify as a medical emergency. Conversely, a medical emergency is a life threatening situation that requires immediate care in an emergency room (ER).

However, when patients confuse urgent care for a medical emergency they may end up waiting for hours to receive care and pay significantly more for treatments available at an urgent care center.

So when should patients visit an urgent care center? When is it appropriate to go to the ER for treatment?

Urgent care situations that need immediate, but not emergency, treatment should be treated at an urgent care center

Urgent care centers are extremely useful medical facilities that allow most patients to receive care for minor injuries, illnesses, and other non-emergency ailments. Most urgent care centers offer affordable self-pay rates, accept most major insurances, and allow patients to access healthcare services via walk-in clinic.

The types of urgent care situations that can be taken care of at an urgent care center include:

  • Cuts, lacerations, bruises
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Bone breaks, sprains, and minor fractures
  • Common cold and flu symptoms
  • STD and Lab Testing
  • Seasonal allergy treatment
  • Vaccinations
  • Routine physicals
  • Pediatric care

The list of urgent care situations treatable at an urgent care center are extensive and allow patients to skip the ER or hospital for common healthcare services. Patients can always walk in, call ahead for an appointment, or schedule online for care at their nearest urgent care center.

Patients need to go to the ER ASAP when they are experiencing a critical medical situation

A full-blown medical emergency requires a patient to go to the nearest emergency room ASAP.

An ER contains life-saving medical equipment not found in most other medical facilities and can address the most severe life-threatening medical situations. The types of medical emergencies that require ER care include:

  • A gunshot or wound that won’t stop bleeding
  • A bone break or fracture that penetrates the skin
  • Ingestion of poisonous or toxic chemicals
  • Sudden loss of consciousness or signs of a seizure
  • Intense asphyxiation or difficulty breathing
  • Signs or symptoms of a heart attack
  • Coughing or vomiting of blood

These are just a handful of medical emergencies that require ER services to treat. If you are experiencing a medical emergency go find your nearest ER for treatment.

For any other urgent care needs, please stop by an urgent care center to save time and money on an array of medical services.