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You’re injured or ill. It’s after hours, and you can’t get in to see your doctor. You have two choices. Urgent care clinic or ER. Knowing the difference between an urgent care and an emergency room” will help you make the best decision.

With the growth of urgent care across the country, patients have more choices about how they spend their healthcare dollars. But it’s important to know the difference between the emergency room and an urgent care—and the services they provide. While emergency rooms are the best choice for those in life-threatening situations, an urgent care provider can treat those needing immediate, less serious care—and typically do it more affordably.

What’s the difference between an urgent care and an emergency room? Check out this infographic that gives you a closer look at both healthcare options.

How urgent care compares: Urgent Cares vs. Emergency Rooms

Urgent Care Vs Emergency Rooms Infographic

Patients increasingly have a choice of where to receive healthcare services. This choice affects quality of care, speed of services, and overall cost to the national economy. Here’s a look at how urgent care clinics stack up:

Urgent cares continue to grow because of their affordability, ease of access, and low wait times for an appointment. Today, urgent cares meet the demands of patients who need immediate treatment but don’t require a visit to an ER.


  • Urgent Care Benchmarking Study (2012). Urgent Care Association of America.
  • The Case for Urgent Care (2011). Urgent Care Association of America.
  • Weinick, R.M., Burns, R.M., and Mehrotra, A. “Many Emergency Department Visits Could Be Managed At Urgent Care Centers and Retail Clinics.” (September 2010). Health Affairs.
  • National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2010 Emergency Department Summary Tables. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Trendwatch Chartbook 2013, Chapter 3: Utilization and Volume. (2013). National Center for Health Statistics.
  • Health, United States, 2012: With Special Feature on Emergency Care. (2013). National Center for Health Statistics.
This resource was first published prior to the 2019 merger between DocuTAP and Practice Velocity. The content reflects our legacy brands.

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