When an illness or injury strikes, it is imperative to know where to seek medical help.  While your primary doctor is the best person to see in this situation, he or she might not be available.  In this case, should you visit an emergency room or urgent care?  Knowing your options and the primary differences between the two can help you save money and time if you need to make this decision in the future.

Emergency rooms are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are the best places for treating severe and life threatening conditions.  Examples of medical emergencies that warrant a visit to the ER include: loss of vision, severe pain, newborn baby with fever, sudden headache, intestinal bleeding, and broken bones.

Urgent care centers like Urgent Care at Newport Center are same-day clinics that offer extended hours and treatment for minor medical conditions when your primary doctor is not available.  Examples of symptoms that can be treated at urgent care include: vomiting, severe sore throat, sprained ankle, and fever without rash.

One of the primary differences between emergency rooms and urgent care centers is cost.  Due to the expenses of specialized medical equipment utilized in emergency rooms, visits to the ER cost significantly more than visits to your primary doctor or local urgent care center.  Furthermore, not only is your co-pay going to be higher at the ER, there may be two separate charges–one from the hospital and one from the doctor who treats you.  Not only that, if your condition is not technically considered an emergency, your insurance plan will not cover the treatment.  As a result, you will have to pay the cost in full.  Ouch.

The second key difference between the ER and urgent care is wait time.  Urgent care sees patients at a first-come, first serve basis. We also allow appointments to be made.  In opposition, the emergency room serves those with the most serious conditions first.

If you are ever unsure of where to visit when an illness strikes, stay calm, consider the severity of your condition, and call us 949-760-8300. We are open 7 days a week!


  1. http://www.bcbsm.com/index/health-insurance-help/faqs/topics/getting-care/emergency-room-vs-urgent-care-center.html
  2. http://fairhealthconsumer.org/reimbursementseries.php?id=39&terms=emergency-care-vs-urgent-care
  3. http://www.scripps.org/news_items/4231-should-you-go-to-the-emergency-room-or-urgent-care
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