Is It Better to Go to ER or Urgent Care?

Reviewed on 6/3/2021

ER or Urgent Care
Choosing the right facility can save effort, time, and money. It is important to know the right place to go for treatment, especially during a pandemic, which can minimize any unnecessary risk of exposure to infections.

It is always best to consult a physician for any health issues since early diagnosis helps provide timely treatment. This helps improve disease outcomes and prevents the development of complications. 

In medical emergencies, such as heart attack and stroke, every minute counts. A delay in seeking treatment may cause permanent complications and even death

Besides knowing when to seek medical care, it is also essential to know where to seek it. A hospital or health care facility has several departments to allow for a smooth process and ensure those who need priority treatment will receive it. 

Most people often do not know whether to go to urgent care or the emergency room (ER) for their urgent health situation. Going to the wrong setting creates a problem for someone who needs a different or more aggressive kind of treatment than is available. 

Choosing the right facility can save effort, time, and money. It is important to know the right place to go for treatment, especially during a pandemic, which can minimize any unnecessary risk of exposure to infections. Call the health care provider’s office and take the necessary guidance when not sure where to go.

When to go to the ER

Emergency rooms are well equipped to manage emergency health conditions, especially those that are serious, potentially disabling, or life-threatening. Seeking treatment in an ER can be quite expensive and may cost two to three times more than the same care in a doctor's office. 

Thus, before proceeding to the ER, a person must know how quickly the treatment is required. A simple question to ask yourself is, “Is an urgent treatment needed to prevent a permanent disability or death of a person or an unborn baby?” If the answer is “yes,” then rush to the ER, call 911 or the local emergency helpline number right away. Some of the conditions needing management in the ER include:

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When to visit the urgent care center

Urgent care facilities are equipped to address urgent health situations that are less serious than those needing an ER. Such conditions are the ones where treatment is needed within 24 hours and not immediately. Hence, if the medical condition is not potentially fatal or disabling or the concerned doctor is not available, go to the urgent care center. 

Taking a prior appointment at the center will further limit waiting time at the facility. Some of the conditions that can be managed at an urgent care center include:

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References
Spiegel T. When to Go to the Emergency Room Vs an Urgent Care Clinic. The University of Chicago Medicine. https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/health-and-wellness-articles/when-to-go-to-the-emergency-room-vs-an-urgent-care-clinic

Medline Plus. When to Use the Emergency Room – Adult. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000593.htm

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