ER vs. Urgent Care, where and when to go?

With the multitude of different healthcare service options available today across the U.S. (such as primary care physicians, clinics, telemedicine, urgent care centers, and emergency departments), there has been patient confusion about when and where to go when having an emergency. Most patients understand that their physician and most clinics do NOT treat emergencies. But what is the difference between ERs and Urgent Care Centers? The chart below highlights the main differences between emergency rooms and urgent care centers, and specifically when and why a patient should go to the ER versus an urgent care center.

Some major differences between emergency rooms and urgent care centers include hours of operation, staff expertise, available diagnostics/equipment, and available treatment based on a patient’s condition. St. Vincent Neighborhood Hospitals are fully-licensed acute care hospitals that include an emergency room and inpatient unit, open 24/7, 365 days of the year.

All patients should familiarize themselves with the different available healthcare options, and know when and how to utilize each of their healthcare needs. And, when in doubt, if you are having a life-threatening emergency, don’t wait. Please call 911.


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