Urgent Care vs. ER

What’s the Difference Between Urgent Care and the Emergency Room?

When you’re in pain from a serious injury or illness, it can be difficult to know for sure whether you need to go to the emergency room or if you can be treated at an urgent care center.  To help clarify, here are some differences between the two facilities.

Emergency Rooms vs. Urgent Care

As the name implies, emergency rooms are for medical emergencies that need immediate, life-saving attention.  Urgent care centers, on the other hand, are for matters that are serious, but not life- or limb-threatening.

Besides the severity of the conditions treated at each facility, there are several other differences between the two:

Wait Times

Most urgent care clinics can get you in and out within an hour, whether you walk in or call ahead to make an appointment.  At an emergency room, however, you could be waiting for hours if there are people with more severe injuries or illnesses that need to be treated.

Services

Urgent care centers are equipped to handle more than a typical primary care physician’s office.  For example, if you’ve sprained your wrist but your primary care physician’s office is closed, urgent care is a great option.  If you have a severe broken bone that has punctured the skin, however, the emergency room is more appropriate.

Urgent care clinics can also perform services like physicals, EKGs, X-rays, lab work, and vaccinations.  Keep in mind that while urgent care clinics provide these services, they do not function like a primary care physician’s office and should not be used as a substitute for the regular care provided by your primary care physician.

Costs

Going to the emergency room costs much more than going to urgent care.  While both urgent care and ER visits can be covered by insurance, keep in mind that if you go to an out-of-network facility or if you are treated by an out-of-network doctor, you may have to pay the full price of the visit out of your own pocket.  Since the cost of urgent care is much lower, it will not be as damaging to your finances.

When to Go to the Emergency Room

If you’re suffering from a life-threatening condition, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room.  Such conditions could include:

  • Heart attack symptoms: chest pain; squeezing sensations in the chest; pain in the neck, jaw, or arm on the left side of your body
  • Stroke symptoms: sudden numbness on one side of your body; slurred speech; vertigo; vision problems
  • Difficulty breathing, including severe wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Head trauma
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Extremely high fever
  • Poisoning
  • Major burns
  • Loss of consciousness

When to Go to Urgent Care

Go to an urgent care facility if you experience the following:

  • Minor broken bones
  • Sprains and strains
  • Cold and flu symptoms: coughing, sore throat, fatigue, fever
  • Cuts that have stopped bleeding but may require stitches
  • Eye or ear infections
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Minor burns
  • Minor allergic reactions

ASH Urgent Care

In addition to the services listed above, ASH Urgent Care also performs hydration therapy, drug testing, immunizations, and a variety of occupational health services.  If you are in need of urgent care in North Little Rock, call ASH Urgent Care at (501) 918-0814.  Or, go directly to ASH Urgent Care at 7339 North Hills Boulevard, Suite 100.

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