Emergency Sign. 3D Illustration

Should I Go to Urgent Care or the Emergency Room?

Getting into an accident that leaves you with an injury is a nightmare for most of us. Even being stuck with an illness or allergies for long enough can leave us begging for a solution. However, knowing where to go to get help can be a difficult choice.

What is the difference between an emergency room visit and a trip to an urgent care clinic? Which one do you need to go to?

If you need help for an injury or illness fast, then we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know about visiting an ER or urgent care.


If you are considering whether you need to visit the emergency room or urgent care, consider the severity of your symptoms. An ER provides far different treatment options than urgent care; before making a decision, consider your symptoms.

Consider whether or not your symptoms would be classified as an emergency. Some instances that you should visit an urgent care clinic over an emergency room include, but are not limited to:

  • Severe flu, cold, or allergy symptoms
  • Insect bites
  • Sprains, broken or dislocated bones
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • UTI
  • Back pain
  • Minor headaches
  • Any type of infection

Each of these symptoms can lead to more serious issues down the line and should be dealt with right away. However, they are not considered an emergency, as they do not pose an immediate risk to your health and wellbeing.

More serious issues should be taken to an emergency room. These help problems include, but are not limited to:

  • Neck or spine injuries
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Broken bones that have punctured the skin
  • Paralysis
  • Any severe injury or illness
  • Severe pain anywhere in the body
  • Major allergic reactions
  • Drug or alcohol overdose
  • Bleeding that won’t stop
  • Suicidal thoughts

Any of these symptoms are an immediate threat to the life and wellbeing of the patient. It is crucial that anyone experiencing these symptoms, or any other severe ailments, be taken to the ER immediately.


Naturally, there is a big price difference between a visit to an urgent care clinic and the ER. Because you are being treated by a general physician in an urgent care facility, they are likely to take your insurance. This leaves far less for you to pay out of pocket.

Meanwhile, an emergency room is filled with trained professionals who specialize in emergency situations. They are often not covered by insurance, and will therefore cost you more money in the long run. Some insurance companies do cover ER visits, though you may still have to pay a bit more out of pocket for the trip.

This should not deter you from visiting the emergency room if you are in a medical emergency. If you need fast and urgent medical attention, get yourself to an ER immediately.

Wait Time

The time you spend waiting in an ER vs an urgent care clinic depends on the severity of your symptoms. Urgent care clinics tend to work on a first-come, first-serve basis; your wait time will depend on the number of people that are already waiting. Therefore, if the urgent care clinic happens to be having a busy day, you may need to spend some time waiting for a practitioner.

Meanwhile, emergency rooms treat their patients based on the severity of their symptoms. Patients are rated upon entry based on their injuries or illnesses. A triage nurse will rate your injuries as follows:

  • Immediate
  • Emergent
  • Urgent
  • Semi-urgent
  • Non-urgent

No matter when you enter an emergency room, those higher on the triage level will always be seen before you. This is because their lives are at a higher risk than yours, and therefore need to be treated sooner. If you have a non-urgent or even a semi-urgent case, you may be stuck waiting a while to be seen.

However, it’s also important to note that urgent care clinics are usually only open for a set time frame each day. Most clinics are open between 7:00 am and 9:00 pm; this means that if you happen to need help later at night or exceptionally early in the morning, an urgent care clinic won’t be able to help you.

Meanwhile, emergency rooms are available 24/7 in case something serious happens. If you need help right away but can’t get to an urgent care clinic, then visiting an emergency room may be your best bet.

Available Services

The types of lab work and tests that you can receive may vary, whether you go to an emergency room versus an urgent care clinic. This is due to the level of care that they are able to provide and the types of illnesses and injuries they treat.

An emergency room can offer certain labs that you may not be able to receive at the average urgent care clinic. These services include:

  • MRI’s and CT scans
  • Blood work
  • Ultrasounds
  • Cardiac monitoring
  • X-Rays
  • Operating rooms and equipment
  • Anesthesia
  • And more

If you believe that your injury or illness may require complicated monitoring, then you may want to consider visiting an ER. An urgent care clinic may not be able to provide the specialty care that you need. For more information about the types of services you can receive, visit mednowurgentcare.net.

Get the Care You Need from Urgent Care Clinics or Emergency Rooms

If you need urgent care services but aren’t sure where to go, consider these differences. They will help push you towards the care that you need. If you are struggling with an illness or injury but still aren’t sure where to go for your care, it’s best to lean on the side of caution and visit an ER for help right away.

Are you or a loved one struggling with severe ailments that you aren’t sure how to repair?

Leave a comment down below with any questions or concerns you have and don’t forget to share this article with your friends and family. For more helpful information, keep reading our blog!