When to Go to Urgent Care vs. the Emergency Room


Unexpected falls, injuries or illnesses need prompt, high-quality treatment from an urgent care or emergency room facility. But how can you easily decide between urgent care vs. emergency room for your situation?

If you need immediate medical attention, your first thought might be to visit an emergency room. However, there are certain situations (e.g., when your condition isn’t serious or life-threatening) when you may want to consider State Urgent Care instead. Our urgent care facility is equipped to handle a comprehensive list of medical services, and it won’t be as expensive as a hospital emergency room. In fact, services received in an emergency room on average can cost an additional 85% or more per visit than an urgent care facility.

Your wait time will likely be shorter at an urgent care as well because emergency rooms must take those with life-threatening illnesses or injuries first.

Deciding between urgent care vs. emergency room

The words “urgent” and “emergency” both suggest there is a medical issue that needs prompt attention, so knowing which one is right for your situation can be confusing—especially when you’re feeling worried or anxious. Here is an easy way to remember when to visit an urgent care vs. emergency room:

  • Urgent care
    For sudden illnesses or injuries you would normally address with your primary doctor.
  • Emergency room
    For serious, potentially life-threatening medical issues.

Medical conditions treated at an urgent care facility

Making the decision between urgent care vs. ER is easy with this cheat sheet. Here are common illnesses and injuries treated at State urgent care:

  • Cold and flu symptoms
  • Sore throats
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Ear infections
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Allergic reactions
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Cuts
  • Scrapes and lacerations
  • Sprains and strains
  • Fractures
  • Mild to moderate Burns
  • Pregnancy testing
  • School, sport and camp physicals

If you need immediate medical attention for one or more of the conditions listed above, your first thought might be to go directly to the emergency room. However, there are certain situations (e.g., when your condition isn’t serious or life-threatening) you may want to consider urgent care. Our physicians and medical staff provide compassionate, comprehensive care whether you need an x-ray, simple lab test, cast, vaccination or a complete physical.

However, if you have a serious, potentially life-threatening medical condition like a large open wound, compound fracture, chest pain, head injury or difficulty breathing, go to the nearest emergency room immediately. Unlike urgent care facilities, emergency rooms have the equipment and medications necessary to help people with serious, life-threatening conditions.

Additional services at State Urgent Care

We want our community to be as healthy as possible. That’s why, in addition to providing urgent medical services, we also offer the following routine healthcare services:

  • Primary care
  • Telemedicine
  • Children’s urgent care
  • Preventative care
  • Chronic care
  • Women’s health
  • Geriatric exams
  • COVID-19 testing
  • Worker’s compensation
  • Personal and occupational injuries
  • Laboratory and diagnostic services
  • Aesthetic and anti-aging medicine

Should I go to an urgent care or wait for my primary care doctor?

Urgent care facilities should be used as a supplemental service provider to your primary care doctor. Your primary care doctor should be familiar with your health history, perform regular checkups and be able to detect and diagnose health issues early; before they become more serious.

They can also help you determine whether you are at risk for conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and then help you take steps to prevent them from developing.

Urgent care facilities offer a wide range of services and can provide the medical attention you need when your primary care doctor is out of the office or unavailable. If you need someone who is familiar with your medical history and can help you manage your health long term, try to schedule an appointment with your primary doctor. However, if your condition is urgent and it’s after regular business hours, or if you need one-time help that’s unrelated to a chronic or long-term condition, verify your closest urgent care accepts your insurance plan before you go to avoid unexpected (or avoidable) out-of-pocket expenses.

For more information about the services of an urgent care, visit State Urgent Care and speak to one of our skilled medical professionals. We’re open for walk-in appointments 7 days a week, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.