How Urgent Care Centers And Emergency Rooms Differ

Posted on: 19 December 2019

Urgent care centers are becoming more common in many locations all over the United States. Many people find these facilities come in very handy if a mild or moderate medical issue occurs. However, urgent care centers are not exactly the same as the emergency department of a hospital. These are some ways these two medical facilities differ.

Business Hours

Urgent care centers are normally open for business every day of the week. Although, they do have certain hours that care is available and certain hours when the office is closed. For example, an urgent care center may be open from 10 am to 10 pm Monday through Saturday and then be open from 12 pm to 8 pm on Sundays. Unlike these facilities, the emergency department of a hospital is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.

Types Of Care

The type of care given at an urgent care center is also different than that of a hospital emergency department. Urgent care is for mild to moderate health conditions that could be treated by a family doctor. Some of these include ankle sprains, minor cuts or burns, cold and flu symptoms, or mild abdominal pain.

Emergency departments can treat a variety of more severe medical conditions. For instance, if you have a broken leg, chest pains or bleeding during a pregnancy, it is necessary to go to the emergency room immediately. These conditions are much too severe to be treated at an urgent care center.

Types Of Referrals 

If you are treated at an urgent care center, the physician may recommend you follow up with your family doctor. If your condition cannot be treated by urgent care, most likely you will be referred to go to the emergency department where there are more trained physicians and advanced medical equipment that can better treat your health problems.

If you go to the emergency department of a hospital, you may also be referred to follow up with your family doctor or a specialist if you are released after being treated. However, if your health issues are so severe that it is not safe to send you back home, the emergency department physician will recommend that you be admitted to the hospital where you can be treated properly.

When deciding whether to go to an urgent care center or the emergency department of a hospital, consider what your symptoms are. If those symptoms can be easily treated with medications, it may be fine to go to urgent care. But, if you are suffering from any type of life-threatening symptoms, it is best to go straight to the emergency department.