What Is the Difference Between the ER & Urgent Care?
When you suffer an injury that needs medical attention but isn’t life-threatening, or when you’re dealing with serious symptoms causing you significant discomfort, you might wonder whether you need to go to the emergency room or if you should visit a nearby urgent care center. It’s a common dilemma people face, but few understand the difference between ERs and urgent care facilities—or when to go to one or the other. However, knowing the difference between the two and which facility is appropriate for your injuries, illness, or symptoms is not only important for your continued health and well-being, but it could even save your life.
What Is an Urgent Care Center?
In recent years, more and more urgent care centers have been popping up in and around the Lewisville area, as well as throughout the state of Texas and across the U.S. These centers offer a range of non-emergency medical services, making them an ideal place to go if you need to see a doctor but you are not experiencing serious or life-threatening symptoms.
Urgent care centers are also ideal places to visit if you sustain an injury or develop a condition outside of normal business hours for which you would normally see your primary care physician. Most urgent care facilities provide extended hours or, in some cases, around-the-clock service. Be sure to check the facility’s hours before visiting.
When Should I Go to Urgent Care?
You should go to an urgent care facility if you are experiencing a non-emergency injury or condition or have symptoms that require attention but are not life-threatening and it is outside of your normal primary care physician’s office hours.
You may wish to go to an urgent care center to receive medical attention for the following:
- Sore throat
- Minor headaches
- Back pain
- Minor fractures/breaks
- Minor lacerations
- Nausea or vomiting
- Ear or sinus infections
- Burning with urination
- Non-serious allergic reactions
- Objects in the eyes or nose
- Minor animal bites
- Mild asthma
Most urgent care centers will be able to provide diagnostic services and professional treatment for a wide range of minor injuries and symptoms. If necessary, they can also recommend additional care or refer you to a specialist.
What Are the Benefits of Visiting an Urgent Care Center?
Because emergency rooms also treat minor injuries, you may be wondering why you should go to an urgent care center rather than the ER. In fact, there are many benefits to visiting an urgent care center instead of the ER.
Studies have shown that:
- Approximately 90% of patients at an urgent care center will wait no more than 30 minutes to be seen by a provider.
- Approximately 84% of people who visit an urgent care center are seen by a provider and able to leave within the hour.
- Most urgent care centers take walk-ins, meaning you do not have to make an appointment to receive care.
- Urgent care centers are often more affordable than ERs, particularly when a patient takes an ambulance to the ER, and most accept insurance.
While there are many advantages to visiting an urgent care facility for non-emergency situations, you should never go to one if you are experiencing a medical emergency. Urgent care facilities are not equipped to handle emergency care services; for your safety, it is critical that you go to the ER if you or someone you love is experiencing serious symptoms or has been severely injured.
What Is an Emergency Room?
In contrast to an urgent care center, an emergency room is a medical facility that provides a full range of non-emergency and emergency services. If you believe you or someone else has a life-threatening condition, go immediately to the nearest ER. If necessary, call 911 and request an ambulance. You should never try to drive yourself to the ER if you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as chest pain, excessive bleeding, or difficulty breathing.
When Should I Go to the ER?
You should go to the emergency room any time you sustain a severe injury or are experiencing warning signs or symptoms of a life-threatening condition.
Below are instances in which you should go immediately to the ER:
- If you are exhibiting signs of a heart attack, such as chest pain or discomfort, difficulty breathing, or discomfort in other areas of the body
- If you have warning signs of a stroke, such as sudden numbness in the face, arms, or legs, particularly on one side of the body, as well as confusion, speech problems, or loss of balance
- If you sustained a severe injury, such as a head injury, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, severe burns, or compound fracture
- If you are experiencing severe or excessive bleeding (hemorrhaging) due to an injury or trauma to the body
- If you are experiencing unexplained dizziness, confusion, disorientation, loss of vision, or other severe symptoms
Essentially, any time you or someone else is in need of immediate, emergency medical attention in order to address a severe, life-threatening injury, illness, or condition, you should call 911 or go to the nearest ER without delay.
At ER of Texas, we provide a full range of emergency medical services in Lewisville, Little Elm, Highland Village, and throughout the surrounding areas. Our state-of-the-art facilities are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every single day of the year, including holidays and weekends.
If you need emergency medical care, call 911 or contact ER of Texas right away.