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Teri Lou, November 21 2022

Urgent Care Vs ER for Auto Accidents

Learn The Differences Between Urgent Care And Emergency Room

If you have been involved in an accident, even if you do not feel you have been damaged, it's best to see a doctor to determine if there are any hidden injuries. Getting to an urgent care clinic after a minor vehicle accident is critical, regardless of how eager you are to go on with your day. With three options available, you need to understand the difference between primary care, urgent care, and emergency services to get the care you need. Take a look below and find out everything you need to make the best decision for your health. 

Is urgent care the same as an emergency room?

Urgent care and emergency rooms are not the same, but they are in the same category. Urgent care is always very accessible, being open 7 days a week for appointments or walk-in visits. Essentially, the difference between urgent care and emergency rooms is the severity of the problem. Emergency rooms are more tailored to life-threatening injuries, while urgent cares handle illnesses and injuries that are non life-threatening.

What's the difference between urgent care and an emergency room?

Urgent care can handle a wide variety of issues and bridge the gap between your primary care physician and the emergency room. Additionally, urgent care is the method to go if you have a small illness or injury that can't wait until tomorrow. Go to urgent care when you need medical attention but not the emergency room. 

Typically, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurses work in Urgent Care clinics. Some Urgent Care clinics do, however, have physicians on staff. In addition, urgent care providers can order basic lab tests and imaging tests like X-rays to aid in diagnosis and treatment planning. Urgent Care clinics operate on a predetermined schedule and address a limited number of conditions. As a result, Urgent Care facilities are frequently less expensive than Emergency Departments and have lower wait times.

Emergency rooms are for emergent situations that threaten life or limb. People who experience chest pain, breathing problems, head trauma, severe bleeding, loss of vision need to go to an emergency room if they need immediate medical attention. 

Physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurses specialized in emergency care are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at emergency departments. Expert physicians in advanced areas such as cardiology, neurology, and orthopedics are readily available to the team. The imaging and laboratory resources required to diagnose and treat severe and life-threatening situations are also available in emergency departments.

Remember that emergency rooms triage their patients based on the severity of issues that can keep you in the hospital for hours depending on the level of emergent situations. Urgent care fills in a gap where patients with both emergent and non-emergent can get the correct care at different facilities in a timely fashion. 

Next, emergency rooms are open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, while typically urgent cares are not open during the wee hours of the night. If you're having trouble breathing, shortness of breath, a life or limb injury, or indicators of a stroke or heart attack, dial 911 instead of driving yourself to the ER.

When would a patient utilize urgent care versus an emergency room?

Patients should utilize urgent care for urgent but not threatening health issues. Some of the medical issues urgent care can help with include: minor fractures, pain, nausea, x-rays, lab tests, fever, sinus infections, sore throat, stitches, asthma attacks, rashes, bites, UTIs, abdominal pain, and cuts. This is by no means a comprehensive list. 

If you or someone else needs to see a doctor and cannot wait until normal doctor's hours but does not require a trip to the emergency room, go to an urgent care. Urgent care doctors can determine if your issue is serious enough to require a trip to the emergency room if you are unsure but do not see a threat to life or limb. 

Is it cheaper to go to urgent care or the emergency room?

Urgent care offers much more affordable prices ranging between $100 to $200 and up depending on the issue and treatment. Meanwhile, emergency rooms can vary dramatically in price, with an average cost of around $1400 on the low end and into thousands depending on the issue. As a result, those with minor issues can save hundreds of dollars and hours of time by choosing urgent care over an emergency room.

Why are emergency room visits so expensive?

Medical care in an emergency and the complications of detecting and treating everything from food poisoning to a brain injury are costly. Keeping an emergency room up and running at all times with highly trained, often specialized, paid personnel costs a lot of money. Your trip to the ER may result in sticker shock due to unpredictable charges, a hazy pricing system, and the general cost of running an emergency room.

Everything from aspirin to the usage of a defibrillator is charged at emergency departments. Also, bear in mind that whether someone is coming in for a stitch or a stroke, they must maintain a consistent state of readiness in the emergency department. If the majority of individuals come in for stitches, the cost of the less expensive procedures may be increased to assist in balancing the expense of the more expensive ones.

One factor to keep in mind is insurance. Emergency rooms will treat you whether you have insurance or not, but urgent care can turn you away if you cannot afford to pay. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act does not apply to urgent care centers, and most of them require payment at the time of service. Also, urgent cares are more like you to have a list of prices, so you know roughly what to expect before payment. 

Is urgent care or ER faster?

If you remember the days of spending hours in the ER for a couple of stitches, then urgent care will make your day. On average, 90 percent of patients at urgent care wait for only 30 minutes or less to see a doctor or provider. Additionally, most patients are completely finished with their visit in under an hour! 

Emergency rooms rate patients on the level of emergency, which means depending on the patients in the ER, you may be waiting for hours for minor issues you can get treated at urgent care in an hour or two. However, you will still need to cover whatever your insurance company does not, even if everything is out-of-network. Therefore, it's best to know what emergency rooms are in-network for you before an emergency but keep in mind, each doctor can be in or out of network even if the hospital is in-network. 

How does urgent care treat pain and injuries from car accidents?

People who have been wounded in an automobile accident have three options for seeking medical help. First, the person can visit an emergency room, a primary care physician, or an urgent care center. If the injuries are severe enough, an ambulance will be dispatched to transport the victim to the emergency room. When someone's life or limb is in jeopardy, this department should be called in. The doctor's office is a viable option for small or moderate injuries. If the incident occurs on the weekend, late at night, or on a holiday when the doctor's office is closed, the patient can be treated at an urgent care facility.

Urgent cares usually work four ways to treat bodily damage from a car accident. First, medical professionals will look for hidden injuries that patients may not have noticed due to shock or adrenaline. Second, they will look for a concussion. Third, they will look for signs of internal bleeding. Finally, they will treat visible conditions. 

You can expect urgent care to get a complete medical history to rule out known problems to facilitate better treating new injuries. Doctors will help with neck, back, and whiplash pain, along with treating all injuries and restoring full health. Even if you do not believe you or someone else was injured in a car accident, it's wise to visit urgent care or your primary care doctor during regular business hours to rule out hidden complications and issues. 

Why choose Portland Urgent Care for auto accident injury treatment?

To serve more consumers, Portland Urgent Care works with various insurance companies. We also use various integrated medical resources that allow us to serve you in the way that your body requires by combining both western and eastern medical services. 

We provide same-day and walk-in appointments with the best experts for rapid relief for car accidents. To manage pain and prevent chronic injuries, get a personalized treatment plan. Finally, together with imaging and x-rays, an in-house chiropractor can assist in diagnosing and determining the best course of action for recuperation.


It's critical to get medical attention if you're not sure if you've been harmed in a minor vehicle accident. However, an expensive and time-consuming trip to the emergency room is unnecessary. It's not a good idea, though, to wait until your primary care physician has an opening. Urgent Care is the ideal compromise.

Read More Accident Related Blogs Here:

What To Do After A Car Accident

What Are Motor Vehicle Accidents?

Common Car Accident Injuries

Minor Car Accident Injuries

What To Do After A Bike Accident

Should I Go To Urgent Care After A Car Accident?

Learn More About Urgent Care By Reading Our Blogs!

Can Urgent Care Refer You To A Specialist?

What Is PIP Insurance?

What Is A DOT Physical?

Written by

Teri Lou

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