Urgent Care vs ER Questions and Answers
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Urgent care clinics and emergency rooms are excellent alternatives to the primary care clinic when primary care services are unavailable or insufficient to address the patient’s medical concerns. With that being said, while urgent care clinics and emergency rooms are similar, they ultimately function for different purposes.
Is Urgent Care faster than ER?
If you are dealing with a medical concern that is not life-threatening, an urgent care clinic will most likely be a faster option than the emergency room. Urgent care clinics do not see patients with life-threatening medical conditions, which allows them to see patients on a first-come, first-served basis with more regularity than emergency rooms. With that being said, urgent care clinics conduct patient evaluations for each patient upon their arrival at the clinic to determine if they should be seen by a doctor immediately or if they can safely wait in the order of their arrival.
What is the difference between urgent care and emergency care?
The main difference between urgent care clinics and emergency care departments concerns the level of care that each medical facility is equipped to provide to patients. As such, while emergency care departments exist to provide medical care around the clock to individuals experiencing life-threatening medical emergencies, urgent care clinics are not equipped to provide such medical care. However, urgent care clinics are an excellent option for individuals dealing with urgent medical needs that are not life-threatening but cannot wait for the next available appointment at their primary care clinic. They are also helpful as a temporary measure for individuals who do not have a primary care doctor.
Is it better to go to urgent care or ER?
Urgent care clinics and emergency rooms provide essential medical services to individuals dealing with different medical concerns. As such, it is always better to visit an emergency room if you are dealing with a life-threatening medical emergency. On the other hand, it is better to visit an urgent care clinic if you are dealing with a medical concern that is not life-threatening for a variety of different reasons.
If you are unsure if your medical concern is potentially life-threatening or not, the following is a list of signs that you could be dealing with a life-threatening medical emergency:
- Alcohol poisoning or drug overdose
- Anaphylactic shock, or anaphylaxis
- Compound fractures, or a fracture where the broken bone pierces through the skin
- Coughing or vomiting up blood
- Deep abrasions (avulsions), cuts, or lacerations with heavy or uncontrollable bleeding
- Extreme or unbearable pain
- Fainting, passing out, or loss of consciousness
- Severe seizures
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea) or struggling to breathe
- Significant chest pain or tightness
- Signs of stroke, such as sudden confusion, droopiness or weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech, or vision disturbances
- Third-degree burns or worse
What are some benefits of going to an urgent care instead of an ER?
Not only can urgent care clinics save you time, but they can also save you money, as the services at an emergency care department are typically much more expensive than those at an urgent care clinic. Furthermore, urgent care doctors often have equivalent experience and expertise to emergency room doctors, although this varies from clinic to clinic. With that being said, you should always go to the emergency room if you think your medical concern is a life-threatening emergency.
For more information about urgent care and emergency room services or an appointment with us at AFC Urgent Care, we welcome you to call us or visit our clinic at 8260 Mira Mesa Blvd, Suite A, in San Diego, CA, for a walk-in appointment. We serve patients from Mira Mesa CA, Poway CA, Solana Beach CA, Santee CA, Encinitas CA, Lakeside CA, and El Cajon CA.