Urgent Care vs ER Questions and Answers
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Urgent care clinics and emergency rooms both accept walk-in appointments and typically operate on extended hours, including weekends and evenings. As such, they function as effective alternatives to primary care clinics. However, they are not necessarily substitutes for each other, as they cater to different degrees of medical needs. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about the differences between urgent care clinics and emergency rooms.
Is Urgent Care faster than ER?
Depending on the situation and medical concern, urgent care clinics can be a much faster option than emergency rooms. Since urgent care clinics do not see patients with life-threatening medical emergencies, they can see patients with less critical medical conditions much faster than emergency rooms can on average.
While both urgent care clinics and emergency rooms conduct patient evaluations for each patient that arrives to determine if they should be seen by a doctor immediately or can safely wait in line, urgent care clinics can see such patients on a first-come, first-served basis with much more regularity than emergency rooms because they see do not see as many patients with critical conditions.
Consequently, individuals with non-life-threatening medical conditions are more likely to be seen by a doctor faster at an urgent care clinic than at an emergency room.
What is the difference between urgent care and emergency care?
In some ways, there are more similarities than differences between urgent care clinics and emergency care departments. However, the differences between the two types of medical facilities are more significant than the similarities.
With that in mind, the primary difference between emergency care and urgent care is the level of care that each medical facility can provide. As such, while emergency care departments, in addition to intensive care units (ICUs), are the only medical facilities able to provide medical care for life-threatening medical emergencies, urgent care clinics are not sufficiently equipped to do so.
Is it better to go to urgent care or ER?
Since emergency rooms are the only medical facility that provides walk-in services for life-threatening medical emergencies, it is always better to go to the ER in such situations. On the other hand, emergency rooms are often less than ideal for individuals with specific medical concerns that are not life-threatening, as many of such individuals are subjected to extended time spent in the waiting room. As such, urgent care clinics are usually the better choice in such situations.
With that being said, some signs that your medical concern is potentially life-threatening and therefore requires emergency room treatment include the following:
- Alcohol poisoning or a drug overdose
- Anaphylactic shock, or anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction
- Compound fractures, wherein the broken bone pierces through the skin
- Coughing or vomiting up blood
- Deep abrasions, also known as avulsions, cuts, or lacerations with heavy or unstoppable bleeding
- Extreme, unbearable pain
- Fainting, passing out, or losing consciousness
- Severe or uncontrollable seizures
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea) or struggling to breathe
- Significant chest pain or tightness
- Stroke symptoms, including sudden confusion, droopiness or weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech, or vision disturbances
- Third-degree or fourth-degree burns
What are some benefits of going to an urgent care instead of an ER?
In the right circumstances, there are numerous benefits to visiting an urgent care clinic rather There are numerous benefits to visiting an urgent care clinic rather than an emergency room in the right circumstances. Some of those benefits include less time spent in the waiting room for medical conditions that are not critical or life-threatening and less expensive services, all while not sacrificing convenience for quality, as most urgent care clinics have medical doctors who are equally as qualified as emergency room doctors.
For more information about urgent care clinics in comparison with emergency rooms, we welcome you to give us a call at AFC Urgent Care! For an appointment, please feel free to visit our clinic at 5825 Kanan Road, Unit B, in Agoura Hills, California. We serve patients from Agoura Hills, CA, Westlake Village CA, Calabasas CA, Thousand Oaks CA, Malibu CA, Santa Monica CA and Moorpark CA.