Should You Go to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care?

October 12, 2018

It’s Friday evening and your son hurt his ankle at soccer practice. Or it’s Saturday morning and you’ve got a sore throat and high fever. What should you do?

“Recognizing the differences between ‘emergency’ and ‘urgent’ care can be confusing, because both terms imply there is a medical need that needs to be addressed quickly,” says Eugene Kim, MD, Chief Medical Officer, St. Jude Medical Center. “However, there are distinct differences between them and the level of care provided.”

Urgent care centers offer greater convenience for sore throats, fevers, flu, ear infections, sprains, and more, often with less wait time. And unlike the higher co-pay required to visit an ER, the co-pay for urgent care is typically the same as a visit to your primary care physician.

“If your illness or injury is something you would normally see your doctor for, then an urgent care setting is probably more appropriate than the ER,” says Dr. Kim.

ERs are the best place for treating severe and life-threatening conditions, providing the widest range of services for critical care, including diagnostic tests and access to specialists and procedures, which makes care more expensive. And you may have to wait to be treated because ERs prioritize patients according to the severity of their illness or injury.

“If you are having a medical emergency, there is no better place than St.Jude Medical Center’s Emergency Department, nationally-recognized for its success in treating severe and life-threatening conditions,” Dr. Kim explains. “But for less serious health issues, urgent care centers are a more convenient, less expensive choice.”

St. Jude Urgent Care | 2251 N. Harbor Blvd. (714) 449-6230

Open from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., 7 days a week

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