Urgent care or emergency room? As a general rule, if you feel your health is in immediate danger and your situation is potentially life-threatening, seek care at the nearest emergency room immediately. However, if an injury or illness requires medical care but is not life-threatening, an urgent care clinic can provide the care you need. In these difficult moments, it’s important to properly weigh your options in order to receive the best care possible, while avoiding long wait times and costly medical bills.
Here’s a guide to help you determine whether to seek medical care at an urgent care clinic or an ER.
Urgent Care Clinics
Urgent care clinics have a full medical staff to handle non-life threatening illnesses and injuries. For a twisted ankle, stomach bug, or a bad cough, this may be your best option over a potentially long and expensive visit to the ER. At Physicians Immediate Care, our providers routinely treat a wide variety of illnesses and injuries, from stitches and broken bones, to sinus infections and flu.
We also offer things like immunizations and convenient walk-in physicals. Click here for a list of the most common ailments and injuries that we treat. Urgent care clinics have extended hours to operate outside of when most primary care doctors are available. Urgent care facilities see most patients on a first come, first serve basis. New at Physicians Immediate Care is the ability to use our Urgent Care Pass to choose a time that best fits your schedule and avoid waiting in line.
An emergency room is a medical treatment facility designed to accommodate people with life-threatening injuries or illnesses. If you’re experiencing any of the following medical conditions, you should go to an emergency room as soon as possible:
- Chest Pain
- Significant shortness of breath
- Sudden numbness or paralysis of a limb
- Fainting or seizures
While it may be tempting to head straight for the ER when experiencing a medical problem, it’s important to be aware that if you visit the ER when emergency care is not needed, you could end up paying high out-of pocket costs. The cost of a visit to an urgent care clinic will generally be significantly lower than a visit to the ER. Typically you’ll only have one charge at an urgent care center versus two charges at an emergency room (one for the emergency room itself and one for the physician).
Most health plans include urgent care in their networks. Contact your insurance provider to learn more about what’s included in your coverage. Click here for a list of insurance plans we accept. If you don’t have insurance, we also offer self-pay pricing, which you can find here.
Get the Right Care at the Right Time
Here are a few key points to consider when experiencing a medical problem:
- What is the severity of your condition?
- Will waiting for care be potentially life-threatening?
- What is covered by your insurance provider?
As always, if you aren’t sure what constitutes an emergency or what kind of visits are covered by your plan, contact your insurance provider or check your plan documents. We’ve also created an urgency chart to help you determine where to seek medical care. Learning the difference between the kinds of care an urgent care clinic provides compared to an emergency room can help save you time, money and get you the best care you need.
We hope that you use this guide to create your own action plan so that if an unexpected crisis occurs you can decide if you need to go to an urgent care or emergency room.
Getting and staying healthy can difficult, at Physicians Immediate Care, we aim to make this job a bit easier by offering affordable options for things like immunizations, flu shots, and yearly physicals.