When deciding on which health care facility to visit in order to receive immediate care, many are confused between urgent care centers and emergency rooms (ER). Simply put, you go to an urgent care center for non-life-threatening injuries and an ER for life-threatening ones. Understandably, if you are ill or injured, it can feel life-threatening, especially if it occurs late at night. However, each facility has its own role. Learn the differences between urgent care and ER below.
Urgent Care Center
An urgent care center is staffed by physicians, physicians assistants, and nurse practitioners and can handle a variety of medical problems that need immediate treatment. If your primary care provider is not available or if it’s after clinic hours or a weekend, an urgent care center can address your needs. An urgent care center is usually open evenings, weekends, and even holidays.
The physicians at an urgent care center can evaluate and treat minor, non-life-threatening injuries, including:
- Abdominal pain
- Cold and flu
- Sprains and strains
- Minor cuts
- Minor bone fractures
Urgent care centers usually offer X-rays and lab tests but do not have operating rooms. So urgent care as an option the next time you are ill or injured. Acute medical care that your primary care doctor would commonly provide can also be provided by the staff at an urgent care center. Plus, since patients seen at urgent care centers have acute non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries, there is usually little to no wait time.
Go to an emergency room for true emergencies such as severe bleeding and injuries where the bone has pierced the skin. ERs are open 24/7 and are staffed by emergency room doctors and trauma surgeons able to respond to complications that occur in patients who are in critical condition. Although they are fully capable of treating minor illnesses and injuries, you could be contributing to the overburden in the emergency room for a condition that an urgent care center can treat.
An emergency room offers ultrasounds, radiology labs, CAT scans, and MRIs, and has operating rooms. For severe illnesses or injuries and other conditions that are life-threatening or limb-threatening, a hospital stay is usually recommended, and since most emergency rooms are connected to a hospital, this is easy to do.
Examples of conditions that are best evaluated by the staff in the emergency room include:
- Severe pain and bleeding
- Chest pain or difficulty breathing
- Weakness and numbness occurring on one side
- Speech and cognitive problems
- Loss of vision
- Car accident injuries
- Head injury or discomfort after a fall
- Broken bones or dislocation
- Facial cuts
- Severe cold and flu symptoms
- Vaginal bleeding
An emergency room admits patients using a triage system, which means more severe cases are given higher priority, which results in you having to wait a long time to receive medical care if your condition is assessed as non-life-threatening.
Urgent Care and Emergency Care in Wooster, OH
Wooster Community Hospital offers urgent care (at our NowClinic facility) and emergency care (at The Beaverson Emergency Medical Services) to the members of our community. If you are unsure about the type of care you need and have questions, call (330) 263-8100. Our friendly and accommodating staff looks forward to your call!