Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room

Whether it’s the flu, a hockey injury, or food poisoning, it feels like the winter months are prime for sudden health scares. When you’re dealing with extreme pain and other challenging symptoms, it’s difficult to know where to go to seek help. However, knowing where to seek treatment will help to ensure that you get the best and quickest medical care.

So what is the difference between urgent care and the emergency room?

Urgent care is best for acute health situations and non-life-threatening emergencies. These less severe medical crises include:

  • Flu-like symptoms or upper respiratory infections in adults or children without complicated medical history
  • Minor injuries, like a sprain or dislocation
  • Skin conditions, including allergic reactions or minor burns
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Dehydration from heat or lack of fluids
  • Ear and eye infections
  • Urinary tract infections without complicated medical history

The emergency room (ER), then, should be used to treat more serious and life-threatening issues like:

  • Sudden onset chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Stroke-like symptoms, such as trouble speaking; numbness in the face, arm, or leg; or problems seeing in one or both eyes
  • Severe trauma (i.e. head trauma accompanied by memory loss or unconsciousness)
  • Severe bleeding
  • Severe burns
  • Loss of vision
  • Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
  • Worsening of existing medical issues, like heart failure

Most health issues and injuries are non-life-threatening, which means urgent care is generally the best option for treatment.

Consider the following five benefits for using urgent care instead of the emergency room:

  1. Urgent care is usually staffed with physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurses. They can provide you with basic labs and imaging to help diagnose you and develop the best treatment plan.
  2. Many urgent care facilities can keep you for observation for up to six hours, allowing you to avoid a costly visit to the ER.
  3. The wait time for urgent care is often significantly less than the ER. Even without an appointment, you’ll usually wait for 30 minutes or less. 
  4. Urgent care accepts insurance, making it a more affordable option for you and your family. 
  5. Urgent care is found in numerous locations throughout Winter Park, making it convenient no matter where you are.

If you need to see a doctor right away, but it is not life-threatening, head to your nearest urgent care!

If you’d prefer to see a primary care physician, you can always call Platinum Primary Care and grab our next available appointment. 

Contact Dr. Asha Tota-Maharaj, MD at Platinum Primary Care with all your healthcare needs. Come visit us at 2071 Dundee Drive in Winter Park.