What is The Main Differences between Urgent Care and ER?

Unexpected injuries and sicknesses sometimes necessitate critical medical care. If your physician is not available, then you have two options: visiting the ER or going to Urgent Care. The option that you decide to go with comes with specific implications as both options have several differences.

Here is a brief insight into ten of the most glaring differences between ER and Urgent Care

  1. Time

Typically, urgent care facilities tend to act faster than the ER. However, this all depends on the illness or injury that you are suffering.

In the ER, dire cases are given priority over situations that may not be considered urgent when compared – for instance, a person suffering from a stroke will be attended to before a person with a broken arm. In critical care, most of the cases are not dire and hence tend to be treated promptly. As suggested, it all depends on what is ailing you.

  1. Cost

Overall, ER tends to be more expensive than urgent care medical care. Here, too, the ailment plays a crucial role. It is because most ER cases are considered dire, and hence tend to require advanced medical care which is expensive. For urgent care cases, however, the medical care given is not as valuable, and insurance tends to pay for everything.

  1. Regulations

ER rooms are considered vital to patients’ well being. In fact, they are considered so important that federal law requires ER rooms to treat anyone that checks in with an urgent medical need.

Urgent care facilities are also considered significant, but they are not as highly regulated as ER rooms. It means that you don’t have to be attended to if you visit an urgent care facility. However, cases of neglect in these facilities are rare, and they only refer patients elsewhere when they are incapable of offering medical care themselves.

  1. Idealistic Cases

It is interesting to note that most people who find themselves in urgent medical need tend to visit the ER almost automatically. However, most cases that are reported at the ER do not qualify as emergencies.

The ER is designed for dire cases that are life-threatening – these may include heart attacks, stroke, severe injuries, and severe allergies, among others. Urgent care facilities, on the other hand, are better suited to handle moderate cases such as fever, flu, and moderate injuries, just to mention a few.

  1. Equipment

As mentioned, ER facilities are considered vital to patients’ well being. To this end, they are fitted with virtually every medical material that may be needed to handle any ailment.

Urgent care facilities are idealistic for moderate ailments that don’t necessarily require advanced medical care. To this end, they are fitted with only necessary medical equipment such as laboratory testing equipment and X-Rays. To this end, if an urgent care facility does not have the right equipment, the patient is usually referred to the ER.

  1. Staffing

Both the ER and urgent care facilities are tasked with providing immediate medical care. However, critical care facilities are usually more relaxed as they tend to deal with moderate cases. For this reason, they are not as adequately staffed as ER facilities, just as is the case with medical equipment.

For instance, you will note that urgent care facilities tend to have less staff during the night, as opposed to ER facilities where people are working all shifts to fill all positions.

  1. Insurance Coverage

All patients are covered by insurance whether they visit the Emergency Room or an urgent care facility. However, the efficacy of this insurance coverage tends to vary depending on the facility that you visit and the ailment.

In a bid to cut costs, insurance agencies tend to lay some of the cost of ER medical care on the patient – the patient essentially co-pays with the insurer. It is because most of the cases presented at the ER require advanced and expensive medical care.Cases reported at urgent care facilities, however, are moderate and affordable, and in most cases, the insurer clears the entire bill.

  1. Payment Convenience

Since ER facilities are required by federal law to treat all patients without any limitations, patients who may be incapacitated to pay too pt for these institutions as they cannot be turned away. To this end, many patients who visit the ER don’t usually have insurance coverage and are incapable of paying out of pocket. Nevertheless, to try to cut their losses, ER facilities have a wide variety of payment plans including periodical installments and charity aids.

Urgent care facilities do not have such financial plans, and they may require you to pay regardless of your financial hardships.

  1. Numeracy

Statistics show that there are more urgent care facilities across the U.S. when compared to ER facilities. It is attributed to the fact that urgent care facilities are cheaper to put up when compared to the latter.

  1. Limitations

Urgent care facilities have certain restrictions when it comes to medical care – in fact, in some cases, they are required by law to refer individual cases to the ER. ER facilities, however, have no limitations as there is no better referral beyond them.


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