The Difference Between ER and Urgent Care

As access to health care continues to expand, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the options available for care for an illness, injury or other medical condition. Specifically, many East Texans often must choose between a trip to the emergency room or an Urgent Care facility in a moment that doesn’t offer much time for consideration of the options. In these scenarios, price, availability of treatment and insurance acceptance are often critical factors that, if known, can help you make a more informed decision for your health care.

When You Should Visit the Emergency Room

The primary purpose of emergency rooms is care for patients in emergency situations. Examples include:

Chest pain
Constant vomiting
Continuous bleeding
Head injuries
Heart attack
Major allergic reactions to food, animals, bug bites or wounds
Major bone fractures
Major dislocations
Severe wounds
Traumatic accidents

When You Should Visit an Urgent Care Facility

Urgent Care facilities provide immediate medical attention for minor medical conditions that do not require treatment at a hospital emergency room. Examples include:

Back injury
Ear infections/ear ache
Fever/cold or flu/cough
Gout/joint pain
Minor burns
Minor eye injuries
Minor fractures or minor dislocations
Minor lacerations, cuts, scrapes
Pink eye
Poison ivy
Sexually transmitted diseases
Skin infections
Sore throat
Stable allergic reactions
Stable wheezing/asthma attacks
Stomach flu
Swimmer’s ear
Upper respiratory infection
Urinary tract/bladder infections
Vaginal infection

When You Should Visit Your Primary Care Provider

As part of Your Medical Home, your CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic primary care provider team works with you to maintain your health with preventive care and treatment of illnesses and injuries. Your primary care provider knows you best, and has quick access to your medical history and records. This distinguished, caring team is available with same-day sick visits and you can schedule an appointment online at your convenience with MyChart. Your primary care provider team is Your Medical Home for common illnesses and well visits. Examples include:

Ear | nose | throat care
Fever | cold or flu | cough
Flu shots
Physicals | Immunizations
Chronic Care
High cholesterol
Pediatric care
Sore throat
Strep throat
Well visits | Sick visits

Cost Difference Between Emergency Room and Urgent Care

For emergency room trips, the price of treatment is the cash price for patients without health insurance. For patients with accepted health insurance, the cost is the amount of an emergency room visit on the patient’s accepted health insurance plan.

For Urgent Care visits, the price of treatment is the cash price for patients without health insurance. For patients with accepted health insurance, the cost is the amount of a regular doctor’s visit on the patient’s accepted health insurance plan.

Due to the higher level of care required to be on hand and potentially necessary, emergency room trips cost more than Urgent Care visits, both in cash pricing and in accepted health insurance visit costs. The price of emergency room trips can be substantially increased if the patient must be transferred to a hospital from the emergency room if the emergency room is not adjacent to a hospital. Patients who visit an emergency room at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital - Tyler, for example, can be taken to a patient room at the hospital during a visit to the Level II Emergency Care Center there without having to be transferred.

If you have a medical emergency, always call 9-1-1. If your condition is included among the treatable conditions at an Urgent Care facility listed above, CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Urgent Care is open seven days a week, including extended and evening hours on weekdays. If your condition is not an emergency, you can receive expedited medical attention at an CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Urgent Care facility from a physician or advanced practice provider, including X-rays and laboratory services, if necessary.