Should You Go To The Emergency Room or Urgent Care

The last thing you want when you are in an emergency, is to start debating in your mind on whether to visit an emergency room or an urgent care center. Unfortunately, this is a debate that hasn’t been settled yet and will rage on for a few years.

Here at Frontline Emergency Room, we often get asked what the difference between an emergency room and an urgent care center is. As an emergency room ourselves, we understand well enough what an emergency room entails and a little as well about urgent care centers.

In this blog post, we are going to break down the difference between urgent care centers and emergency rooms. By the end of it all, you should be able to determine which of the two facilities best suits you in the event of an emergency.

Emergency Rooms vs Urgent Care Centers

Medical conditions handled in the two centers

Freestanding emergency centers are emergency rooms which are physically separated from the hospital and can be hospital owned or run by an individual owner. They are able to treat most forms of diseases and emergencies and are just as equipped as hospital emergency rooms.

Urgent care facilities on the other treat minor medical conditions and are not well-equipped. Urgent medical facilities treat emergencies like sinus infections, minor wounds and fever while standalone emergency rooms handle almost all types of medical conditions and emergencies. These diseases and emergencies include; deep wounds, chest pains, shortness of breath, headaches and migraines, head injuries, heart attacks, incessant vomiting, abdominal pain, serious impact from a fall and many other conditions.


In the United States, urgent care centers are more widespread than emergency rooms. Urgent care centers can be found literally anywhere in convenient locations, shopping plazas and even in street corners.

Emergency rooms on the other hand are not as widespread and you might need to take a drive down to one. Thanks to their popularity however, they are coming up pretty quickly and urgent care centers might soon be toppled.

Medical practitioners tending the two facilities

Urgent care centers are staffed with nurse practitioners and primary care doctors that can only perform basic lab tests and provide simple medications.

Freestanding emergency rooms on the other hand provide the care of board certified emergency room doctors with full labs and complex work-ups for things like liver function and kidney function. The medical practitioners here are qualified to handle all the medical conditions reported to them. Just like a hospital ER, they can provide IV treatment when necessary and monitor you for up to 23 hours before discharge or hospitalization.

Amount of time taken to get services

Urgent care facilities have longer hours than doctor’s offices but they typically aren’t open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week like an emergency room centers. Depending on the availability of the medical staff, they can be open until midday while some can run deep into the night. A good number of urgent centers are however closed at 5pm like doctor’s offices.

Standalone emergency rooms on the other hand, are open for 24 hours a day 365 days a year including holidays and weekends. The staff members work in shifts here and at no time will you not get someone to attend to you. Whether it is very early in the morning or late into the night, they are always there waiting for you.

Quality of equipment in the facilities

Most urgent care facilities are not well equipped with the facilities and equipment needed for complex medical procedures. This means that they just operate using the basic equipment and will not perform any complicated procedures like surgeries or even imaging or scanning.

Freestanding emergency rooms on the other hand are equipped just like hospitals and are capable of performing even the most complex of procedures right there on the spot. They have the facilities required for basic surgery, they have well equipped labs, they can scan patients using X-rays and CT scans, Ultrasound and some even have MRI units. This means that whatever form of care that you need, you will most likely get it in the emergency room.

So, where should you go in the event of an emergency?

In the event of an emergency, you should weigh your options very quickly before making a decision. If the injury is serious, then the best place to report the same is an emergency room. If the injury is not as serious though, you can report the same to the nearest urgent care center.

Want the best emergency room in Texas?

Looking for the best emergency room in and around Texas? Look no further than our way here at Frontline Emergency Room. Frontline Emergency Room is a no wait emergency care facility offering the best emergency services to the locals of Richmond, TX and Dallas, TX at very affordable rates.

Frontline Emergency Rooms accept most of the medical insurances on offer in Texas and you should therefore not be too worried about your insurance. We also offer a flexible payment plan and are always willing to listen to you. Give us a call here at Frontline emergency room today and we will gladly be of help.


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