What’s the Difference Between Urgent Care and the ER?

woman with questions

Illnesses and injuries don’t always happen during normal business hours. Sometimes, you need immediate care, and waiting to schedule an appointment isn’t an option. But when should you go to an urgent care or express clinic and when should you go to an emergency room (ER)? It’s important to know the differences between the two options.

Like a doctor’s office, urgent care or express clinics have regular hours, but an urgent care or express clinic is usually open later in the day and include  weekend hours. ERs are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

River’s Edge Hospital’s Emergency Department is a Level IV Trauma Center that is open around the clock to provide care for serious or life-threatening injuries. River’s Edge Hospital’s Urgent Care Department and River’s Edge Express Clinic are available for walk-in care for minor illnesses and injuries.

When to Visit an Emergency Room

If your health concern is life-threatening or could cause permanent disability, go to the ER. Emergencies need expert care as soon as possible. Conditions that should be treated in an ER include:

  • Bleeding that will not stop
  • Chest pain or other signs of a heart attack, such as pain in the arm or jaw
  • Choking
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Fainting
  • Head, neck or spine injury
  • Ingestion of a poisonous substance
  • Serious wounds or burns
  • Severe allergic reactions (including hives, swelling and trouble breathing)
  • Stroke
  • Sudden difficulty moving, seeing, speaking or walking
  • Sudden weakness or dizziness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Trouble breathing

You should call 911 for an ambulance if distance or traffic could further delay care, or if moving the person to take them to the hospital could cause additional injury. An ambulance is always your best option if the condition is life-threatening or could become life-threatening on the drive to the emergency room.

When to Visit an Urgent Care or Express Clinic

When your health concern is not life-threatening but also requires immediate care, urgent care or an express clinic is a fast and effective alternative to scheduling an appointment with your provider. Conditions that can be treated at an urgent care or express clinic include:

  • Cold, flu and minor respiratory infections
  • Ear infections and ear wax removal
  • Pink eye and styes
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Skin issues, including cold and canker sores, eczema, hives, impetigo, shingles, warts, and skin infections
  • Urinary tract infections

Urgent Care and Emergency Care: Cost Comparison

Whenever possible, you should use your primary care provider or an urgent care or express clinic. Treatment in an ER can be significantly more expensive than what you would pay at an urgent care clinic or your provider’s office. To save time and money, learn the locations of your local urgent or express clinic and your ER.

River’s Edge Express Clinic, located in the Hilltop Hy-Vee in Mankato, is a reliable option for walk-in medical care. Our nurse practitioner is available seven days a week and is available to treat your minor illnesses and injuries. Best of all, your visit will typically cost less than what you would pay at an ER.

River’s Edge Express Clinic offers quick, convenient, compassionate care with no appointment necessary. We’re open Monday–Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. To learn more about the River’s Edge Hospital Emergency Room, visit riversedgehealth.org. Call 507-353-2997 to learn more.

 

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