Urgent Care or the Emergency Room? 5 Ways to Decide Where to Go

urgent care or the emergency room

A car collision, a painful fall, broken bones—you never know what sudden emergency can send you scrambling. In 2016, there were 145.6 million such accidents that required emergency department visits.

How do you know whether to visit urgent care or the emergency room, though?

Can’t decide? Keep reading to discover the five reasons you should go to urgent care. With this guide, you can make sure you receive the treatment you need, regardless of the injury.

1. When You Know the Diagnosis

In some cases, you already know the diagnosis.

For example, you might have repeat urinary tract infections. As a parent, you might recognize the signs your child has an ear infection. 

During these cases, don’t stress about choosing between urgent care or the emergency room. Instead, call your local urgent care center. They can let you know what the wait time is so you can see a doctor. 

2. When It’s Not An Emergency

Many patients rush to the emergency room when it’s not an emergency.

To determine whether to visit urgent care or the emergency room, decide if the symptoms require immediate care. Will the situation escalate if you don’t see a doctor immediately? 

Urgent care clinics process 89 million patient visits a year. These centers know how to evaluate such medical situations.  

Instead of visiting the emergency room, a non-emergency clinic can help determine the treatment you need. 

3. When It’s a Minor Fracture

If you think you’ve suffered a minor fracture, visit a walk-in urgent care center. These clinics have X-ray machines and equipment for minor procedures. They’re prepared to handle minor fractures.

When necessary, they can splint broken bones or stitch wounds, too. 

Emergency departments, on the other hand, deal with in-depth diagnostic testing. You won’t need that for a minor fracture.

4. When Symptoms are Minor

Many people can’t decide to visit urgent care of the emergency room based on their symptoms. An urgent treatment center can evaluate your symptoms, so you don’t have to wait in the emergency room. Visit a walk-in urgent care center if you experience:

  • Vomiting
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sprains and strains
  • Small cuts (which can require stitches)
  • Rashes
  • Minor burns
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Ear or sinus pain
  • Dehydration
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Shortness of breath

Urgent care centers are often more affordable and convenient. Instead of wasting time and money, an urgent care center can help you with these symptoms. 

5. When You Can’t Visit Your Doctor

If you can’t get a same-day appointment with your primary care physician, visit a nearby urgent care center instead. Clinics are a great resource when you can’t see your doctor. 

However, severe situations, such as a complex fracture or heart attack, require access to specialists. In these cases, visit an emergency room instead.

Urgent Care or the Emergency Room: Where to Go for Urgent Treatment

How bad are your symptoms or injury? If you can’t decide between urgent care or the emergency room, review this list. Unless it’s a dire emergency, chances are a walk-in urgent care center can provide the care you need!

Looking for an urgent care center? Visit us today for quality, convenient care.