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An emergency care doctor talks with a man as he lays in a bed in the emergency room.

Should I go to an urgent care clinic or the emergency room?

Where do you go when you twist your ankle while hiking? Start having chest pains? Got a cold that you just can’t get rid of? Sometimes, it can be difficult to know whether an injury or illness should go straight to the emergency room or can be cared for at an urgent care facility. The things to think about include the severity of injury or illness, wait time, cost, and diagnostic capabilities.

Choosing between urgent care and the emergency room

You should consider going to urgent care for non-life-threatening medical issues that require prompt attention but are not severe or critical emergencies. Urgent care is also suitable for conditions that cannot wait for a regular doctor's appointment, such as sudden illnesses or injuries that occur outside of regular office hours.

On the other hand, you should go to an emergency room for serious or life-threatening medical emergencies that require immediate medical attention. The ER is equipped with advanced medical technology and staffed by health care professionals trained to handle critical situations and provide life-saving interventions.

Emergency room: Conditions treated


Urgent care: Conditions treated


What you need to know about express care

Express care refers to a type of health care service that offers prompt and efficient medical attention for minor illnesses and injuries. Similar to urgent care, express care facilities provide convenient access to health care services without the need for an appointment, often on a walk-in basis. However, express care centers typically focus on providing quicker and more streamlined services, aiming to address patients' needs rapidly and efficiently. 

These facilities may offer a limited range of services compared to urgent care or emergency rooms, focusing primarily on treating common ailments like colds, flu, minor cuts, sprains, and strains. Express care centers may also provide basic diagnostic services and prescriptions for medications. The emphasis in express care is on delivering rapid care for minor medical issues in a convenient and accessible manner.

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