Urgent Care vs ER Questions and Answers
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Urgent care clinics and emergency rooms function as great alternatives to primary care clinics for individuals who lack a primary care doctor or those who require urgent medical attention that cannot wait for the next available appointment slot at their primary clinic. Both urgent care clinics and emergency rooms accept walk-in appointments and typically have extended open hours, including weekends and holidays. With that being said, urgent care clinics and emergency rooms ultimately function for different medical purposes. To give you a better idea about the differences between urgent care clinics and emergency rooms, some answers to commonly asked questions about urgent care and emergency rooms are listed below.
Is Urgent Care faster than ER?
In situations where an individual is experiencing a medical concern that is not life-threatening, an open urgent care clinic is typically a much faster option than the emergency room. Urgent care clinics do not see patients who are experiencing medical concerns that are potentially life-threatening. As such, the number of patients that require immediate care at an urgent care clinic are far less than those at an emergency room.
Consequently, while both urgent care clinics and emergency rooms conduct patient evaluations for each patient upon arrival to determine if they should receive medical attention immediately or if they can safely wait in line, urgent care clinics see patients on a first-come, first-served basis more frequently than emergency rooms, which significantly reduces the amount of time patients spend in the waiting room.
What is the difference between urgent care and emergency care?
Of the many similarities between urgent care and emergency care, their differences are the most significant.
As such, the most significant difference between urgent care and emergency care is that urgent care clinics are not sufficiently equipped to handle life-threatening medical emergencies, while emergency care departments exist primarily for the treatment of individuals experiencing life-threatening medical emergencies.
Is it better to go to urgent care or ER?
If the urgent care clinic is open, it is always a better option to go to the urgent care clinic if you are dealing with a medical concern that is not life-threatening. However, if you are dealing with a life-threatening medical emergency, it is always better to go to the emergency room, as urgent care clinics are not sufficiently equipped to handle such emergencies.
As such, some signs that your medical concern may be life-threatening, requiring emergency room care, include the following:
- Alcohol poisoning or a drug overdose
- Anaphylactic shock, or anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction
- Compound fractures, where the fractured bone pierces through the skin
- Coughing or vomiting blood
- Deep abrasions, also known as avulsions, cuts, or lacerations with heavy or unstoppable bleeding
- Extreme, unbearable pain
- Fainting, losing consciousness, or passing out
- Severe chest pain or tightness
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea) or struggling to breathe
- Severe chest pain or tightness
- Stroke symptoms, such as sudden confusion, droopiness or weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech, or vision disturbances
- Third- or fourth-degree burns
- Uncontrollable or severe seizures
What are some benefits of going to an urgent care instead of an ER?
In situations where you are not dealing with a life-threatening medical emergency, the benefits of going to an urgent care clinic significantly outweigh those of going to an emergency room. In addition to saving you time in the waiting room, urgent care clinics will save you money! Urgent care clinic services are generally far less expensive than those provided in an emergency room. Moreover, you do not need to worry that you will sacrifice quality for convenience, as most urgent care clinics have medical doctors and professionals that have equivalent qualifications to those in an emergency room.
For more information about the differences between urgent care and emergency care, please feel free to call us at AFC Urgent Care! You can also make an appointment with us by visiting our clinic at 3656 W. Shaw Ave in Fresno, California, for a walk-in appointment. We serve patients from Fresno CA, Clovis CA, Sanger CA, Reedley CA, Selma CA, Kingsburg CA, and Kerman CA.