Pros and Cons of Visiting the ER Compared to an Urgent Care Clinic


It is inevitable in one’s life that he experiences a sudden health condition that needs immediate care.  There are some who directly go to the emergency room, while others prefer urgent care facilities to tend to the situation.

However, these two vary from each other. While both attend to hasty health conditions, they can be differentiated through severity. Knowing the functions of the two not only saves you time and money but it also alleviates the possible risk of having that health condition worse.

If, for example, you have an uncontrollable cough that is paired with a clogged nose, and you want immediate action, will you opt for an urgent care or emergency room? What are the factors one should consider when deciding if the ER is the best option and not the urgent care centers?

Here are the things you need to know about visiting the ER compared to opting for an urgent care facility.

Emergency Room vs Urgent Care Centers

First, you need to know that an emergency room is created “for the purpose of dealing with life-threatening conditions”, Palo Alto Medical Foundation said. Say, a patient needs immediate care for signs of heart attack or stroke, or there is someone who is severely bleeding. Other life-threatening conditions also include vomiting, deep wounds, unconsciousness, broken bones, and head injuries, UC San Diego Health listed.

Meanwhile, understand that urgent care centers are established to answer the growing call for patients who wanted to have themselves checked by their physicians, even on weekends.  According to Mount Sinai Hospital, urgent care centers are not an alternative option for emergency rooms. It has a different role. It is made for patients tend to seek medical attention when they have flu and cold, fever, and sore throat and other non-life threatening conditions.

It can also be for general check-ups, and x-rays. Seeking urgent care centers is advisable when your physician cannot attend to you on weekends or within 24 hours. However, urgent care centers do not operate on a 24-hour schedule. While it is open during after hours of weekdays and weekends, it only follows certain hours only. In this case, you can go for the ER, which is open 24/7.

The Cons

If you happen to go to an emergency room with only a cough and a runny nose, chances are they will prioritize you the least even when you were the first one to arrive. People with life-threatening diseases will still be considered a high priority. In short, it does not observe the first come-first serve basis system unlike in urgent care facilities. It may also take hours before you are tended to by a physician, especially if your concern is none life-threatening.

Aside from this, being accepted into the ER will cost you a lot more money than going to urgent care centers.  In fact, it is thrice, and sometimes 10 times the price. This is why a lot of people tend to rely on urgent care clinics than going to the ER because of its hefty price.

For some, it is better to choose an ER over an urgent care center. But if you want less hassle and urgent treatment, know first the severity of a patient’s conditions before deciding on where to go. This will save you time, effort, money, and the life of your loved one.


About Author


Wife, mother, grandma, blogger, all wrapped into one person. Lover of coffee, crime shows as well as humor. Loyalty, honesty and positivity is what attracts me to a person as that is what I try to project to others. Hard working and driven to a fault helps me help others and in turn helps myself in my daily work and life.

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Tyler Meredith
6 years ago

I’ve been curious as to what some of the pros and cons of visiting the ER over something like an urgent care would be. What you mention about the differences in services they provide really struck a chord with me. It makes sense that an ER focuses on treating life-threatening conditions while and urgent care is focused on more regular emergencies