Urgent Care vs. Emergency: When, What and How They Cure

Urgent Care vs. Emergency When a medical problem suddenly develops, you may not know whether to go to an urgent care facility or to an emergency room as you might not be aware of the difference between urgent care and emergency care. You can actually go to either, but for non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses, there are compelling reasons to go to an urgent care instead of the ER.

Here’s the difference between urgent care and emergency care:

When Should You Go to an Emergency Room? If the situation turns out to be serious enough that you call 911, the ambulance or paramedics will automatically take you to the emergency room, which is equipped to handle many types of life-threatening problems. But that extra capability comes at a cost: ERs cost considerably more than urgent care centers, and the wait time can be several hours for non-emergency conditions. If you are having any of the following, the emergency room is the best option:

  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Worsening abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Traumatic injury, such as broken bones that break the skin
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden changes in perception, such as confusion
  • Sudden severe pain with no obvious cause
  • When Should You Go to an Urgent Care? Urgent care centers are for non-life-threatening problems that stem from daily living. They are open for more hours than most doctors’ offices, have more on-site treatment options, and cost significantly less than an ER visit. By definition, doctors at urgent care facilities are able to evaluate and care for anything that isn’t an emergency.

    Urgent care problems include:

  • Coughs, colds, flu, sinus and ear infections, sore throat
  • Sprains, strains, cuts and bruises
  • Urinary infections, STDs, skin infections
  • Rashes, hives, skin growths
  • Nausea, stomach flu, diarrhea
  • Minor concussions
  • The ideal medical care comes from a physician who knows your history inside and out. But if they’re not available for a problem that can’t keep, or you don’t have a regular doctor, the urgent care is a timely, convenient option. And for true medical emergencies, the ER is open, 24-7. As you now know the difference between urgent care and emergency care, visit the right one depending on your medical situation.

Category: Urgent Care in Irvine


Brian Coyne

Brian Coyne, MD. Dr. Coyne is a board certified family practice physician serves fpr Family Care Centers - Fountain Valley. He completed his undergraduate degree at UCLA before earning his medical degree at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Dr. Coyne spent 6 years in the US Air Force at Andrews and Luke Air force at Andrews and Luke Air Force bases, eventually separating as a Major. He enjoys working with patients of all ages.

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