To most folks, urgent care and emergency care are used interchangeably.  However, in a true medical emergency, knowing which one to choose could be the difference between life and death.


Urgent Care is generally the same care that you would receive from your regular family or primary care physician in his/her office/clinic.  Typical symptoms that indicate Urgent Care is appropriate are, but are not limited to fever, ear pain, sore throat, cough, minor respiratory conditions, vomiting, diarrhea, urinary infections, sprains, strains, some puncture wounds and lacerations, minor burns and minor sports injuries.  


What makes urgent care “urgent” is the timing of the onset of symptoms and whether or not you can get in to see your regular physician.  An example of an urgent care issue is as follows: you wake up with fever and your regular physician cannot work you in that day. Urgent care can possibly treat you in a timelier manner and get you back on your feet.


Emergency Care is generally understood to be some type of medical crisis such as, but not limited to chest pain, head injury, symptoms of a stroke, severe abdominal pain, shortness of breath, loss of consciousness, uncontrollable bleeding, broken bones, seizures, major burns and injuries sustained as a result of an accident or other traumatic incident.  What make this care “emergent” is that a medical crisis can be life threatening and/or risk the loss of a limb.  


You can receive urgent care services at an Emergency Room, but you cannot receive emergency care at an urgent care clinic.  The difference could be life-altering!


This information has been medically reviewed.  The information above is not to be considered medical advice but used for informational purposes only.