When sudden illness or injury strikes, it is important to choose the care
that is best for your circumstances. People usually go to their primary
care physicians when it comes to most illnesses. However, when people
need medical care during off-hours, they have two main options: urgent
care and the ER.
The Difference Between the ER & Urgent Care
Urgent care facilities serve a specific purpose: they treat people who
have illnesses that are not life-threatening but need to be treated immediately.
This includes severe colds, back pain, ankle sprains, and conditions of
that nature. Non-emergency injuries can be treated by urgent care staff,
who provide fast and affordable treatment options.
However, for traumatic injuries or situations that threaten your life or
limbs, urgent cares are not properly equipped. Emergency rooms are open
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and they contain the personnel and equipment
that severely ill or injured patients need. While the wait time may be
longer, the ER is almost guaranteed to have the specialists and tools you need.
If you are not sure if you need care at the ER, here are some rules of
thumb to remember:
If you have sudden, severe, and
- If your injury has made it possible to see internal tissue…
- If your condition threatens your life or could cause a disability…
…then you should go to the ER. Telling the difference between what
is urgent and what is an emergency hinges on whether your condition is
potentially fatal. A severe backache is
urgent because the pain is unfortunate but will likely not kill you. A back
fracture could be disabling or fatal, so that is an
Some pains or conditions should automatically be considered an emergency,
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain or tightness
- Sudden and severe headache
- Sharp and specific abdominal pain
If you have any more questions about emergency care or your health, please
contact your primary care physician.
This article contains general information about medical conditions and
treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as
such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis
of a physician.
If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should
consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.