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Which is better, Urgent Care or Emergency Rooms?

Freestanding emergency rooms | Physicians Premier

If a medical emergency suddenly strikes, most people are confronted with the dilemma of choosing whether to go to an Urgent Care Clinic or an Emergency Room. Even more common, is the lack of knowledge on the difference of services these venues offer. Understanding these differences could potentially make the difference between life and death. At the very least, knowing which medical facility to go to beforehand would ensure that the patient’s malady will be treated in a fast, convenient, and efficient manner.

An Urgent Care clinic primarily treats non-life-or-limb-threatening but urgent conditions or injuries. These facilities have normal business hours and operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. The most common conditions and medical emergencies treated in an Urgent Care Center include: fevers without accompanying rashes, flu symptoms, skin rashes, minor infections, injuries that require stitches or the setting and splinting of bone, sprains and strains, painful urination and UTIs, persistent diarrhea, back problems, sore throats, and headaches. A common reason why some people visit these facilities is when their doctor’s office is closed.

An Emergency Room on the other hand is equipped to deal with all the conditions an Urgent Care Center treats, as well as more severe and life-threatening conditions and injuries. These facilities house more sophisticated medical equipment and are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They admit patients in order of severity, meaning that people with more pressing injuries or symptoms get treated first. Although this might make for a longer wait for some patients, the difference is negligible.

A list of the most common severe medical emergencies treated in an Emergency Room includes, but is not limited to:

  • Knife or gunshot wounds
  • Fever in infants or newborns
  • Radiating chest pain
  • Extremely high fevers
  • Sensory loss
  • Numbness on limbs or on one side of the body
  • Compound fractures
  • Exposure to toxic materials or poisoning
  • Deep or sophisticated wounds that need stitching
  • Seizures and loss of consciousness
  • Paralysis, disorientation, or delirium
  • Severe burns
  • Cranial, optical, and facial injuries
  • Abdominal and respiratory pain
  • Incessant bleeding or blood clots

Most people who still find it hard to decide whether to go to an Urgent Care Center or an Emergency Room after considering the information above (as some of the more complicated symptoms can straddle the line between being life-threatening and not life-threatening) must decide to err on the side of caution and opt to visit a Texas ER. Not only does an ER cover everything an Urgent Care Center treats, but it is also mandated by law to accept any individual seeking treatment, no matter the severity their symptoms.