Should I Visit Urgent Care or the Emergency Room?

er and urgent care

It can be easy to overlook a medical situation when it doesn't seem that serious to you. A case of the sniffles? Just wait until you can schedule a visit to your primary care physician. But what if there's an urgent medical situation that needs to be handled? If you're not sure what the difference between the ER and urgent care is, here's a short guide to help you know where to go in the event one of these situations arises.

Sprained Ankle
Urgent care is the best option here. Not only do urgent care facilities have the personnel and equipment to handle sprains and strains, they can do it more affordably. But if you've sought out emergency services for a sprain before, you're not alone. In fact, a private Milliman study concluded that between 44% and 65% of ER episodes could have been treated in an urgent care clinic.

Persistent Chest Pain
Emergency services all the way. There are a handful of symptoms that require immediate medical attention, and this is one of them. Severe, persistent chest pain could mean any number of serious medical issues are affecting your body, which means it's extremely important that you get emergency care and a proper diagnosis as soon as possible. Going to an ER means you'll have all of the necessary resources in case more serious treatment like surgery is needed.

Lacerations and Burns
If you sustain non-life threatening cuts or burns, urgent care is the place to go. Urgent care specializes in treating minor injuries and illnesses. Sustaining major burns across your body, however, requires urgent medical attention that an ER should be providing. But for burns that only cover a small area and lacerations that aren't life-threatening, urgent care treatment is an excellent option.

The biggest difference between an ER and urgent care clinic is that an ER has all of the equipment and staff for additional emergency treatments like surgeries on-site. So before you decide between the two places, make sure you have done a thorough assessment of your symptoms.