Urgency Care vs Emergency Room: The Main Differences of Both

urgency care vs emergency room

Have you ever sprained your ankle while playing a sport? It can be very painful, but is it serious enough to go to the emergency room?

Non-fatal injuries can be a nuisance and painful, and it’s difficult to wait for an appointment to open up at your regular physician’s office.

Luckily, we live in an age where urgent care centers are becoming more prevalent and useful. But when should you go to one, and what are the differences between urgency care vs. emergency room assistance?

Below we outline these main differences. Keep reading to learn more!


Urgent care (UC) centers do not have as much heavy-duty equipment to assist patients as emergency rooms (ER). If your problem requires a complex treatment or testing, an ER will probably have better resources to assist you than a UC.

Often emergency rooms can provide a higher level of quality for care because they have more supplies. However, many urgent cares have more equipment than you may expect, such as X-ray machines.


If you want to see a doctor immediately, you should go to urgent care rather than an emergency room. Doctors operating in emergency rooms will take patients based on the gravity of their condition.

The Cost Difference Between Urgency Care vs. Emergency Room

One of the biggest differences between urgent care centers and emergency rooms is how much your bill will be. Urgent care facilities typically will cost much less than emergency rooms. This will depend on your health insurance, but in most cases, the cost of a UC visit will still be less.

Severity of Injury

In the differences between urgency care vs emergency room treatment, it ultimately comes down to how much care you need and how quickly.

UC facilities are for minor injuries, while a patient with a life-threatening or major injury is better off going to the ER. Urgent care centers can quickly resolve minor issues if a patient can’t schedule an appointment with their general physician promptly.

While urgent care centers are great for medical problems that need to be resolved in a day or two, they should not be treated with the same intensity of an emergency room. If you think your life is at stake, you should always opt for an ER visit instead.

You can visit an UC for things like an upset stomach, cold or flu-like symptoms, low-grade fevers, and minor cuts and injuries. Head to the ER for more severe issues like abdominal pains, head injuries, strokes, seizures, or chest pain.

Hours of Operation

Urgent care centers often stay open until late in the evening, which makes them a good alternative for people who want to see a physician after the traditional doctor’s office is closed.

However, urgent care centers are not 24/7 facilities. If you are experiencing symptoms worthy of immediate concern at an odd hour of the night, you will have better luck going to the emergency room instead of waiting for an urgent care to open up the following day.

Finding the Best Fit

After learning the differences between urgency care vs emergency room treatment, you can better evaluate which center will best suit your conditions. Whether minor or major, never ignore injuries and symptoms.

For more information on how to use an urgent care center, browse our website or contact us!