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When you or a loved one is sick, it’s important to know where to go to get the symptoms treated. Many people are in a panic and end up rushing to the closest emergency room. But, it’s possible that urgent care will meet your needs in a quick and efficient manner – and without having to sit in an emergency room.

Let’s discuss the differences between urgent care and an emergency room and which conditions they treat.

Urgent Care vs Emergency Room

  • Urgent care. It’s best to think of urgent care as an extension of your regular doctor. This type of care provides routine treatment for injuries and illnesses that a doctor would normally treat. The difference is that they offer convenient hours on evenings and weekends when your general practitioner may not be available.
  • Emergency room. Emergency departments are ready for anything. They are best suited for bigger problems and have a wide range of diagnostic equipment on hand, including ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs and radiology labs.

Conditions Treated

The best way to determine if urgent care will serve your needs is by asking if your regular doctor would see you. If the answer is yes, go to urgent care. This saves a trip to the emergency room and reduces your exposure to sick people. The conditions most commonly treated at urgent care is cold and flu symptoms, sprained ankles, nausea, minor cuts, sore throats, minor burns and ear/eye infections.

Emergency departments are best for more serious injuries and illnesses that a normal doctor would not be able to accommodate. Hospitals typically treat high fevers, broken bones, difficulty breathing, heart attack, stroke, uncontrolled bleeding, major burns and poisoning.

Is There a Better Option?

Sometimes, you can’t avoid going to the emergency room. If you’re experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, you have no time to waste. The nearest hospital is a necessity to save your life. However, if you are dealing with something less serious, consider urgent care for your needs. Not only are you exposed to fewer sick people, but also you can get faster care. Emergency rooms give priority to the sickest patients, so you could end up waiting for a long time and paying a higher copay compared to an urgent care visit.