When to Seek Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room Services: A Guide

on April 10th, 2023
with 0 Comments
in Health Information and Tips

If health is an asset, seeking treatment is an additional income stream. 

Urgent care centers have gained popularity in recent years. While these additional health facilities have improved health access, it’s confusing for patients unsure whether to visit urgent care centers or emergency rooms.

Generally, visiting a suitable health facility can accelerate your recovery or be an origin of complications. For instance, an emergency center will prioritize treating a patient with a broken leg over a kid with mild flu symptoms, which could worsen from the delay.

With that in mind, understanding urgent care and emergency room services can help you to make the right decision when faced with a health problem. If you’re in a dilemma on where to turn to when faced with an urgent health issue, consider visiting your local urgent care center.


Identifying Urgent Care Needs: Symptoms That Warrant a Visit

You can visit an urgent care center if you’re concerned about your health. An urgent care center is ideal for patients with conditions that don’t threaten their life or risk disability. It’s also a valuable alternative if you can’t get a hold of your health provider.

Here are a few conditions treatable in an urgent care center;

  • Minor injuries, including cuts, sprains, minor eye injuries, bruises, & wound dressing
  • Mild illnesses— flu, fever, asthma, ear infections, nose infections, rashes, sore throat, coughs, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • If you have symptoms you don’t understand, such as stomach or chest pain. Instead of buying over-the-counter drugs, an urgent care center provides a better option.

Emergency Room or Urgent Care: Factors to Consider in Making the Right Choice

When faced with an immediate medical need, deciding whether to visit an urgent care center or an emergency room contributes to a better health outcome. 

Here are a few valuable factors to guide your choice;

  • The Severity of Your Condition: Your symptoms will determine if you need emergency or prompt care at an urgent care center. Call 911 if you experience life-threatening symptoms like severe bleeding, shortness of breath, heart attack, or severe chest pain.


  • Availability of Time: An urgent care center is a suitable choice if you’re looking to see a doctor during a busy weekday. Usually, urgent care centers have shorter wait times, so you’ll see a doctor quickly. 


  • Your Location: The proximity to an emergency room can influence your decision to visit alternative healthcare facilities like urgent care centers. If an emergency room is an hour from your location, you may need to visit a health center to receive first aid. Fortunately, urgent centers are available in most areas providing quick and local solutions.

Urgent Care Benefits: Why it Might Be a Better Option Than the Emergency Room

If you need immediate medical attention, your first thought might be an emergency room. However, an urgent care center is a valuable alternative that can provide quality care for your condition.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider an urgent care center;

Urgent Care Centers Are Affordable

An affordable health solution will save you money for other necessities. The price of urgent care centers is significantly lower than emergency care centers. 

Emergency care centers have much larger inpatient facilities that operate around the clock. As a result, they incur additional running costs, such as electricity and labor, which are passed down to patients, explaining the higher pricing.

Shorter Wait-times

Emergency rooms handle life-threatening conditions that require extensive care, including surgery. It may take hours for a physician to become available to see another patient. On the contrary, urgent care centers deal with non-life-threatening conditions, which are easy and quick to treat.

As a result, a physician could see you within 20 minutes after walking in. The short-wait times in urgent care centers have led to better health outcomes and increased patient satisfaction.

Wide Range of Services

Emergency rooms are dedicated to patients with life-threatening symptoms like seizures, shortness of breath, severe headaches, uncontrolled bleeding, and compound fractures.

Although it’s a life-saving facility, it can discriminate against other patients who require urgent medical attention. Fortunately, urgent care centers treat various conditions, including vomiting, diarrhea, flu, sprain, joint pains, earache, muscle and skin conditions, respiratory infections, and cuts.

Emergency Room Musts: When to Head Straight to the ER and Skip Urgent Care

When you sustain an injury or become sick, the symptoms or amount of pain determines where and how soon to seek treatment. You can opt for a regular health care provider, an urgent care center, or an emergency room.

Any condition that requires rapid and advanced treatment, such as surgery, deserves an emergency room visit.

Signs of an Emergency

An emergency is determined by how quickly you need care. It’s therefore advisable to seek emergency help if a person or unborn child is at risk of dying or becoming disabled.

Dial your local emergency number if you experience the following symptoms;

  • Choking
  • Severe Burn
  • Severe chest pain
  • Head injury accompanied by fainting, confusion, or passing out
  • Damage to the spine or neck with a feeling of loss of movement
  • Seizures that last more than a minute

The following conditions need to be evaluated in an emergency room.

  • Seizures
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Sudden confusion
  • A severe headache and, in particular, if it starts suddenly
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Fainting or passing out
  • Extreme fever with a headache or stiff neck
  • Poisoning 
  • Overdose of alcohol
  • Severe pain in any part of the body

Always call 911 or your local emergency number instead of driving to an emergency center when faced with life-threatening symptoms.

Try Our Compassionate Services at Newport Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine

All health concerns deserve immediate and urgent care. A delay in finding help will sustain your suffering, worsen your symptoms, or breed complications. Fortunately, urgent care centers offer quick, accessible, and quality services for multiple health problems.

Newport Urgent Care Center is a well-equipped health facility with board-certified physicians ready to assist.

Contact us online or call us at 949.806.4388 to book an appointment.