Emergency Room (ER) vs. Urgent Care – Where Should You go?

What if you or a member of your family experience an illness or injury after hours, on the weekend, or you simply can’t wait for a doctor’s appointment? Choosing between an ER and urgent care can often be very confusing, especially if you find yourself suddenly ill or injured.

When to Visit an ER

Emergency rooms are suitable for life-threatening illnesses or injuries. If you have chest pain, fainting, loss of vision, shortness of breath, or severe abdominal pain then the emergency room is the best choice. For chest pain, trouble breathing, or other potentially life-threatening issues, we recommend calling 911. You may experience a wait time before seeing a provider. Typically, health insurance out-of-pocket costs are higher at the ER than at the urgent care. 

There are many reasons for seeking care either at an emergency room or urgent care.

The difference between emergency care and urgent care is the severity of the condition.

Calling 911 for a person that is unconscious, gasping for air, or not breathing is warranted. Allergic reactions, chest pain, uncontrolled breathing, and other symptoms requiring immediate medical attention also merit a call to 91 or a visit to the emergency room.

If you are experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency, please visit the nearest emergency room or immediately call 911. For immediate help with a mental health crisis, including suicidal thoughts call 988.

Examples of illnesses or injuries that should be evaluated in an emergency room are:

  • Broken bones
  • Fainting, dizziness, or weakness
  • Ingestion of poison or medical overdose
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Sudden or severe pain, especially in the chest
  • Symptoms of heart attack or stroke

When to Visit an Urgent Care Center

Urgent care is the best option for minor illnesses and injuries. Examples include upper respiratory tract illnesses (colds, flu, cough, etc.), urinary tract infections, nausea/vomiting, lacerations, and sprains. Many urgent cares offer on-site radiology and lab services. They can repair lacerations and remove foreign bodies. Treatment is usually faster and less costly than a visit to the emergency room. 

At Exemplar Care, we keep costs low by providing discounted pricing for self-pay patients and transparent up-front pricing.  We strive to provide our patients with the best overall experience possible. You can make an online reservation at Exemplar Care Urgent Care to reserve your spot. Learn more about Exemplar Care Urgent Care services.

Go to an urgent care center for

  • Animal or insect bites
  • Flu/Cold/Sore Throat/Cough
  • Minor cuts and burns
  • Strains and sprains
  • Sutures or stitches
  • Urinary Tract Infection / STD
Exemplar Care Urgent Care offers on-site diagnostic services such as X-ray, laboratory testing, and EKG, as well as school and sports physicals. 

There are many reasons to choose urgent care over an emergency room. 

Reserve Urgent Care >

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