“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 Shawn Evans, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. “However, there are distinct differences between hospital emergency rooms and traditional urgent care centers, including the level of care that can be provided at each.”
Urgent care clinics help fill a vital gap when you become
sick or injured, but your regular doctor is not available and you
can’t wait for an appointment.
Hospital emergency departments provide medical
care at any time, day or night. However, unlike urgent care
centers, they are equipped and staffed for even the
most complex or critical needs, including life- and
limb-threatening situations ranging from heart attack
and stroke to traumatic injuries following a car accident.