Urgent Care or Emergency Room?

Health issues can arise unexpectedly, but how do you know whether you need urgent care or the emergency room? Both walk-in urgent care clinics and the ER are meant to provide medical assistance to those who are experiencing sudden health complications, but there are real differences between urgent care clinics and emergency rooms, and in the types of services that they provide.

Emergency Rooms

Emergency rooms are equipped to handle any type of medical emergency. Whether it’s hemorrhaging, poisoning, or some other life threatening emergency, emergency rooms have the necessary resources to accommodate any and all emergency situations. ER visits are typically going to be more expensive than a visit to an urgent care clinic. Money shouldn’t be prioritized above your well-being, but you should consider whether your medical issue is a true emergency or one that needs urgent care before heading to the ER.

Standard protocol in the emergency room is that the most serious cases are seen first, rather than seeing patients in order of arrival. If your health problem isn’t deemed serious or there are more serious cases in the ER that day, you could end up waiting for a long time in the emergency room.

Urgent Care

Urgent care clinics typically provide care for less serious — not life-threatening — health emergencies. These clinics are not always equipped for more serious medical traumas, but offer a more affordable alternative to emergency rooms. Urgent care clinics are usually first-come, first-serve. This means that if you’re losing large amounts of blood, you shouldn’t try and save a few dollars by heading to an urgent care clinic. Urgent care clinics have hours of operation, unlike emergency rooms, which are open 24 hours a day. MANA’s MediServe clinics are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m, so it’s easy to fit in your visit around work or school, but they’re not the place to go for a midnight accident.

So when should you visit an urgent care clinic and when should you visit the emergency room? The name says it all. You should visit an urgent care clinic when you need immediate medical attention that is not considered a life-threatening emergency. You should visit the emergency room when you need immediate medical attention that is considered a true emergency.

Examples of urgent care health problems

  • Fever
  • Sicknesses
  • Sprains
  • Minor surgeries
  • Broken bones

Examples of emergency room health problems

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Difficulties breathing
  • Hypothermia
  • Seizures
  • Heavy blood loss

Sometimes it’s not easy to determine whether you need urgent care or the emergency room. Don’t let indecision exacerbate the problem. When in doubt, err towards caution and go to the ER.

However, if you need an urgent care clinic, there are two conveniently located in Fayetteville. MediServe College and MediServe Wedington are both walk-in clinics in the MANA network that provide urgent care for Northwest Arkansas.These clinics are staffed with knowledgeable and experienced MANA physicians and open 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. everyday.