Urgent Care vs ER Questions and Answers
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The emergency room is equipped to handle the most serious medical situations, including limb-threatening and life-threatening situations. Although these facilities are the go-to place for medical emergencies, they are often treated as a universal care center, regardless of the severity of the situation. When people go to the ER for flu-like symptoms or other mild ailments, the emergency rooms become overwhelmed, resulting in greater wait times and not enough beds for the truly sick. Urgent care centers are designed to take the unnecessary strain off of ERs, allowing hospital workers to focus on true emergencies. These clinics handle all urgent but non-life-threatening situations, and also provide several types of preventative care, like health screenings and immunizations.
Is Urgent Care faster than ER?
In the vast majority of cases, it is faster to go to urgent care than the ER when treating the same condition. The main reason for this is urgent care clinics handle less serious concerns and can therefore treat their patients more quickly. Because emergency rooms are designed to handle true emergencies, like a heart attack or stroke, it takes longer to treat these conditions than a flu or strained ankle, for example.
What is the difference between urgent care and emergency care?
There are many important distinctions between an emergency room and urgent care, including:
- Urgent care centers treat mild conditions, like: fever, flu symptoms, minor cuts, allergic reactions, bites, and broken bones. They are also staffed by nurse practitioners, physician assistants and typically have at least one doctor onsite.
- Emergency rooms treat severe conditions, such as: stroke, heart attack, severe burns, electrical shock and any condition that risks the loss of a limb or is life-threatening. They are typically staffed with medical professionals from all backgrounds, with specialists available on-call when needed.
Should I visit urgent care or the ER?
The following symptoms and conditions should be evaluated and treated at the ER:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain, left arm pain or jaw pain
- Serious burns and cuts (burns that cover over ten percent of the body or are on the face/hands, and cuts that will not stop bleeding or wounds that cannot close)
- Severe allergic reaction (swelling lips, difficulty swallowing/breathing)
- Stroke symptoms, including:
- Slurred speech
- Sudden numbness/weakness in any area of body
- Facial droop
- Loss of balance or vision
- A change in mental status (such as confusion)
- Loss of consciousness (if you pass out)
- Multiple injuries or a possible broken bone (especially in areas like the face, skull, ribs or pelvis)
- Pregnant women with vaginal bleeding or pelvic pain
An urgent care specialist can evaluate and treat:
- Fevers and colds
- Vomiting and nausea
- Strains or simple bone breaks (the broken bone does not appear deformed)
- Suspected broken ankles or knees (still able to bear weight on the injured leg with some discomfort)
- Minor cuts
- Mild asthma attacks
- Pain with urination
It is important to note that if the urgent care provider thinks you require a higher level of care, they will send you to the ER right away.
What are some benefits of going to an urgent care instead of an ER?
Urgent care has many benefits of visiting the ER, including:
- Faster service, quicker care and shorter wait times
- More affordable care
- More convenient care with more locations available
If you need urgent care services that you can trust, come to AFC Urgent Care in Largo, FL! Our kind and compassionate professionals are experienced in treating a wide range of injuries and illnesses and can help you feel better, sooner. Call us today or book an appointment, or visit our clinic conveniently located at 9040 Ulmerton Rd, Suite 200, Largo, FL 33771. Our office is open seven days a week: Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM, and Saturday & Sunday from 8 AM to 5 PM. We look forward to serving you! We serve patients from Largo, FL, Clearwater FL, Seminole FL, Pinellas Park FL, Dunedin FL, Safety Harbor FL and Oldsmar FL.