Urgent Care vs. the ER During the Holiday Season

By December 6, 2017Blog
young, smiling girl getting shot from female doctor

When you or someone you love suddenly needs immediate medical care, you have a decision to make: Urgent Care or the ER?

Both places offer (almost) 24/7 care that is available even when your normal doctor is not, but how do you know which one to choose? Especially around the holiday season when emergency rooms are notoriously filled to the brim and understaffed?

While both urgent care and the ER will be a little busier during the weeks that people are on the road, more mistletoe is being hung, and more eggnog is consumed, urgent care will typically be a better option if you need to get in, get out, and pay less.

(This is because emergency rooms are equipped with the means to treat life threatening emergencies, so they have staff and materials that are more expensive than urgent care.)

In general, you should go to an urgent care facility if the issue you’re facing is something you would feel comfortable seeing your primary care physician about, but we know it’s not always easy to make this call.

That’s why we’ve put together a quick guide to help you determine which place to seek medical attention in the case of a holiday emergency…

Go to Urgent Care if you are experiencing…

  • A fever (no rash)
  • Ear pain
  • Painful urination
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting
  • Minor trauma (common sprain or shallow cut)

Go to the Emergency Room if you are experiencing any of the following…

  • Any kind of chest pain/heart palpitations
  • Trouble breathing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sudden difficulty speaking, or trouble understanding speech
  • Altered mental status or confusion, including suicidal thoughts
  • Sudden paralysis
  • Broken bones or dislocated joints
  • Deep cuts that require stitches
  • Head or eye injuries
  • Severe flu or cold symptoms
  • High fevers or fevers with rash
  • Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
  • Severe and persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Serious burns
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Sudden testicular pain and swelling
  • Newborn baby with a fever (a baby less than three months old with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher needs to be seen right away)
  • Falls that cause injury or occur while taking blood thinning medications
  • Sudden vision changes, including blurred or double vision and full or partial vision loss


But Always Remember…

It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you are unsure about the severity of your injury, but your gut is telling you that you need more attention than an urgent care can provide, take yourself to the emergency room.

If it’s not life threatening but you just aren’t feeling your best this holiday season, give us a visit!