ASH Information

January 9, 2018

The Real Difference Between an Urgent Care Clinic and the E.R.


Illness and injury are facts of life. Even with careful living, there will be times when you need to see your doctor faster than his or her schedule will allow. Other times, you need care beyond what your regular doctor can provide.

While you should always call 911 or visit the emergency room when you have a life-threatening emergency, when your needs are not so dire, you have the option of visiting an urgent care clinic.

The two medical care offerings are very similar, but there are some important differences between “urgent” and “emergency” care. Understanding the differences between these two facilities means that you do not pay more for your medical care than is necessary. Here are the main differences in urgent care and the emergency room.

Emergency Room
Emergency rooms can handle just about anything, from trauma to emergency surgical procedures to x-rays, but they also cost an average of three times as much as an urgent care clinic. It is best to save emergency rooms for those occasions when you require rapid treatment. For example, if you have one of the following you may need the type of emergency care that can only be provided in the hospital setting of the emergency room.

  • sudden chest pain
  • difficulty breathing
  • sustain a deep cut that won’t stop bleeding,
  • have an abnormally high temperature,
  • receive a serious burn or have sudden and severe pain

If any of the above happen, it is crucial to visit the emergency room as soon as possible to ensure the best care.

Urgent Care
Urgent care falls somewhere in between an emergency and general medical care. Clinics specializing in urgent care are usually same-day facilities equipped to address issues that require immediate care but do not require a hospital or surgical setting. Urgent care clinics are staffed with medical professionals and depending on the facility, can still provide a broad range of care such as x-rays and EKGs. Visit an urgent care clinic when you have the flu, a sore throat, a minor burn that is beyond what you can treat at home, a severe cut that has stopped bleeding, ear pain, trouble urinating, vomiting or another minor trauma.

If you live close to North Little Rock, Arkansas, and require urgent care, please contact physician-owned Arkansas Surgical Hospital at (877) 918-7020 for more information.

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