The rise is urgent care centers across the country has been hard not to notice the last couple of years. Previously, an emergency room used to be the only treatment option for people facing a significant injury or illness, but that’s no longer the case. With more options than ever before, many people are left wondering, what’s the difference between an urgent care center and an emergency room?
When Should You Go to the ER?
Emergency rooms are designed to handle emergencies, just as the name suggests. When people with non-emergent conditions go to an emergency room for treatment, it causes long wait times and overwhelms the staff in the emergency room.
You should only visit an emergency room if you’re suffering from a potentially life-threatening condition that requires emergent treatment.
When Should You Go to an Urgent Care center?
Urgent care centers are designed to handle everything else, all of those non-emergent and non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses. Common conditions treated at the urgent care include:
- The flu
- Muscle sprains and strains
- Ear infection
- Sinus infection
- Cuts that will require stitches
Urgent care centers also provide STD testing, vaccinations, physicals, and more. Basically, anything your primary care physician treats or an emergency room treats that’s non-life-threatening, urgent care can handle it.
Benefits of Going to the Urgent Care
Going to urgent care helps to avoid overcrowding in the ER, but you’ll get to enjoy additional benefits as well! Urgent care centers see people on a first-come, first-serve basis. That means that you’re seen in the order you arrive.
Alternatively, emergency rooms have to handle more severe cases first. That means that if you go to the ER just needing stitches, you can expect to wait for a few hours before ever being seen. Urgent cares are also much cheaper than in emergency rooms.
You’ll leave will a bill that’s manageable, not one that’s so large it seems impossible to pay. If you’re visiting the urgent care instead of your primary care physician, you’ll be able to get seen the day you need to be treated instead of waiting for the next available appointment.
If you want to experience these benefits and more for yourself, visit your local urgent care next time you need an injury or illness treatment. It’s a good idea to get online and familiarize yourself with the urgent care center closest to you so that when an injury or illness occurs, you know right where to go!