What is the Difference Between Urgent Care and Emergency Rooms? - Explained.

What is the Difference Between Urgent Care and Emergency Rooms?

Urgent Care vs Emergency Rooms

At any point in time, any one of us can experience an unexpected occurrence that causes us mild to moderate discomfort. It could be something like spraining your ankle while quickly descending stairs with a heavy load, or a deep cut obtained while repairing the garage door. It's also possible to experience painful stomach cramps that occur every few minutes or an incessant cough that makes it difficult to sleep. When faced with any of these situations, the question arises: Should we go to the ER or Urgent Care? What are the differences between Urgent Care and the Emergency Room?

What is an ER or Emergency Room?

An emergency room (ER), also known as an emergency department (ED), is a medical treatment facility that provides immediate care to patients who are experiencing a medical emergency or a life-threatening condition. ERs are equipped to handle a wide range of medical emergencies, including heart attacks, strokes, severe injuries, and other critical conditions.

ERs are staffed with emergency physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who are trained to provide immediate medical attention to patients in need. They are equipped with advanced medical technology and equipment, such as X-ray machines, CT scanners, and ultrasound machines, to help diagnose and treat patients quickly and efficiently.

See alos: CT Scan vs. MRI

ERs are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are designed to provide immediate medical care to patients who require urgent medical attention. Patients who are experiencing a life-threatening emergency should call 911 or go directly to the nearest ER for immediate medical attention.

What is Urgent Care?

Urgent care is a type of medical service that provides immediate medical attention to patients who are experiencing a non-life-threatening illness or injury. Urgent care centers are designed to provide a wide range of medical services, including treatment for flu and cold symptoms, minor cuts and burns, sprains and fractures, and other acute conditions that require medical attention.

Urgent care centers are typically staffed with physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, who are trained to provide prompt medical care to patients. They may also have X-ray machines, lab testing capabilities, and other medical equipment on-site to help diagnose and treat patients quickly.

Urgent care centers are usually open seven days a week and offer extended hours, including evenings and weekends. They provide a convenient alternative to traditional primary care offices and emergency rooms, as patients can typically walk in without an appointment and receive medical care quickly. However, if a patient is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, they should call 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency room for immediate medical attention.

An emergency room is best for treating situations which may be categorized between moderate and severe. Even though an ER can and will treat any and all mild and minor discomfort, it is best to not burden the ER staff unnecessarily when there is other options present.

See also: What Is the Difference Between the ER & Urgent Care?

Other options besides the ER

An urgent care facility can deal with all minor trauma and illnesses so it is best to head to one if such a scenario occurs. A primary health provider is your regular doctor. The one you go to for regular or routine check ups after getting an appointment. So if you have a mild condition, it is best to first call your primary health provider to check if he/she is available and inquire if you can get a same-day appointment. If you can, definitely head for the clinic and get yourself examined and treated adequately. If for some reason you cannot get a same-day appointment or if your doctor is not available, then the smartest option is to visit an urgent care facility.

When to Go to an ER?

The conditions mentioned below are considered severe or have the potential to become severe and possibly life threatening. Therefore, it is advised to immediately head to the nearest emergency room if you experience any such symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations and profuse sweating
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Choking or foreign body ingestion
  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Sudden severe headache
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe back pain
  • Altered level of consciousness
  • Unexplained change in behavior with or without confusion
  • Sudden clumsiness or disorientation
  • Large deep laceration
  • A small cut that won’t stop bleeding
  • Head trauma
  • After a car accident even if there is no apparent injury
  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Blurred/double vision or loss of vision
  • Fracture/dislocation
  • Burns
  • High-grade fever with or without rash
  • Fever of 100F or higher in infants or children
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Persistent diarrhoea
  • Pain or bleeding during pregnancy
  • Seizures (epileptic or non-epileptic)

You can also visit our Symptoms to view other Emergency Care Services we treat at ER of Texas.

See also: Understanding Pain Levels, When to visit ER for Pain

When to Go to an Urgent Care Facility?

You should head for an urgent care facility when you feel you are relatively alright and only have a minor ailment. Such scenarios may include:

  • Ankle or wrist sprain
  • Chronic back pain
  • A small cut
  • Mild to a moderate headache
  • Mild to moderate abdominal pain
  • Burning micturition especially with a history of UTIs
  • Bleeding from gums
  • Low-grade fever with no rash
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Ear pain or infection
  • Minor eye infection
  • A sore throat with or without a cough
  • Minor trauma
  • Minor skin infection

Urgent Care vs Emergency Room

Once you assess the severity of your predicament, you can head to the appropriate facility. If your ailment fits in the urgent care category, then you can drive yourself there, but if you can’t (because of a sprain for example) then you should call a family member/friend/neighbor to take you there. If none of this is a viable option then you should dial 911 and request an ambulance.

If your ailment fits in the ER category then (regardless of your ability to drive or not) you should dial 911 and request an ambulance. Remember the cardinal rule: better safe than sorry!

Visit ER of Texas

If you are a Texas resident then you may visit any of our neighborhood emergency rooms for optimum treatment. ER of Texas Emergency Room Emergency Center offers quality treatment for minor and major medical emergencies.

It is good to have some basic knowledge regarding the best medium for treatment. Reaching the right facility at the right time is integral in both ensuring proper handling of the situation as well as being considerate of the people working at that facility.

If you ever have the need for immediate medical care for yourself or a loved one, this article should help you in going in the right direction.

We have ER locations across the DFW metroplex that are open and here to help you 24/7 for whatever spring throws your way.

We have 9 facilities spread across the DFW area with average wait times of less than 10 mins that are OPEN 24/7 located in Hurst, Colleyville, Frisco, Highland Village, Hillcrest, Uptown, Little Elm, Mansfield, and Texoma.