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What's the difference between urgent care and er Care?

difference between urgent care and ER

Do you know the difference between urgent care and ER (emergency room) care? Here’s what you need to know before deciding on your next visit destination!

Bridging the Gap in Care

Urgent care facilities have been referred to as a bridge between a person’s primary care doctor (often seen for routine examinations) and the emergency room floor. Should an unexpected health-related situation arise, knowing where to go and what resources to access can make a difference in treatment, care, and especially the cost.

In an annual analysis, The National Library of Medicine estimated between 14-27% of emergency room visits could have been treated at an urgent care facility, which equivalates to over $4.4 billion dollars of potential cost savings lost. So what resources are offered at urgent care facilities, and what conditions are treated there? 

When Should I Visit an Urgent Care Center?

Urgent care centers are usually staffed with technicians, MAs, primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, physicians assistants and other skilled providers that treat conditions that are non-life threatening in nature. Typically for a patient without insurance, an urgent care visit would range from $150 – $300, and usually less with insurance (depending on the provider). Some common examples of symptoms, conditions, and occurrences that can be treated at an urgent care facilities are:

  • Labs or vaccinations
  • Broken bones and minor fractures
  • Cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Pneumonia, asthma or respiratory illnesses
  • Sore throat or strep throat
  • Minor burns or wounds (first or second degree)
  • Workplace related injuries and those that need reoccuring physical care
  • Stomach and abdominal pains – diahrrea, nausea or vomiting
  • Rashes and skin-related illnesses
  • Urinary tract infections and STD

Should an individual come in with a life-threatening condition, or upon visitation is diagnosed to need emergency care, urgent care centers have the ability to refer said patient to a ER for further treatment. At Next Level Urgent Care, if a patient cannot be treated in-house and is therefore referred to an ER, there is no cost for the urgent care visit.

Here, You're Always a Priority

Click below to see an extensive list of the conditions we treat.

When Should I go to the ER?

Unlike urgent care centers, emergency rooms are staffed and operational 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. Nurse practitioners, trauma surgeons, and expert providers like cardiologists and neurologists are accessible at most facilities. While non-life threatening illnesses can be treated there, usually emergency rooms are reserved for life threatening emergencies, and as such, require the housing of high-cost equipment to be readily available. 

This high-cost equipment and the staff that operates them is part of the reason why an ER visits can be so costly to individuals. In a recent article, K-Health states that the average ER visit cost to an uninsured individual was over $1,200 in 2019, and just under $1,000 for insured patients. Needless to say, knowing the difference between urgent care and ER care can make a difference! Life-threatening conditions that emergency rooms specialize in are:

  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Compound fractures or protruding lacerations
  • Seizures or heart attack
  • Shortness of breath that is severe
  • Severe abdominal pain that medication does not remedy
  • Accident-related injuries, such as a car accident
  • Head injuries, especially if resulting in dizziness or vomiting
  • Severe chest pain or coughing up blood

The Next Level Difference

Knowing the difference can make ALL the difference, and Next Level Urgent Care is here to meet your needs! If you are experiencing a life-threatening condition, dial 911 or visit your local emergency room. If unsure, contact your local Next Level Urgent Care facility for an over the phone consultation.

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