Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room

Why Urgent Care Centers Make Sense

Urgent Care clinics are a category of walk-in clinics focused on the delivery of ambulatory care in a dedicated medical facility outside of a traditional emergency room. Urgent Care clinics primarily treat injuries or illnesses requiring immediate care, but not serious enough to require an ER visit.

Many Emergency Room Visits Could Be Treated By an Urgent Care Facility.

The New England Health Institute reports that 56% of emergency room visits were “totally avoidable.” Several studies suggest many of these cases could have been handled in urgent care. 

Time and Costs Favor Seeing an Urgent Care for Non-Emergency Matters

The cost difference alone should be enough to encourage people to go to urgent care centers. The average urgent care visits range from $50 to $150, depending on the patient’s co-pay and level of treatment, according to the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine.

Average emergency room costs vary wildly based on treatment, but a 2013 National Institute of Health study put the median cost at $1,233. Other estimates push it to as high as $2,168.

Then there is the time factor. Patients at urgent cares are seen on a first-come, first-serve basis with an average wait time of about 30 minutes.  Compare this to being seen at an emergency room, where patients are seen based on the severity of condition. Patients with life-threatening injuries go first. The average wait time in the ER is about 2 hours or more. 

How to Decide Between an Urgent Care vs. ER

When deciding between urgent care clinics and emergency rooms the question to answer is:  “Are these life-threatening injuries or symptoms?”.  If the answer is “Yes”, then the choice is simple: Go to an emergency room. If the injuries and symptoms are non-life threatening, then an urgent care center should do.

For injuries or conditions that are not life threatening but need to be taken care of right away, then an urgent care may be the correct choice.


Don’t spend hours in an emergency room for URGENT matters.

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