The Main Differences of a Freestanding ER & an Urgent Care Center

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Choosing where to get medical attention can be challenging nowadays because there are tons of facilities popping out of nowhere. Two of the most common, which you can find anywhere, are freestanding ERs and urgent care centers. They both act as an emergency clinic, but they have their differences too. What matters is that you get the medical attention you need based on the level of severity of your health issue is. Both can help you with your injuries and health issues, but there are some takeaways that you need to understand first.

If you’re currently experiencing a significant medical issue that’s more serious than you think, then you should go to a freestanding ER. But if you have minor injuries, then an urgent care center is enough. But there are many other distinctions you need to understand to differentiate them further to make the right choice when you encounter a medical issue in the future.

emergency clinic

The Medical Professionals Available

Freestanding ERs are just like any traditional ER, but they are better in many ways. For example, they have shorter wait times with professional medical physicians attending to your needs. These practitioners are highly trained and equipped, such as doctors and nurses. And during all hours of operation, there must be an emergency medicine physician on staff. On the other hand, urgent care centers have a combination of physicians, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants. And they are usually supported by technicians and assistants. That’s why they can primarily treat minor injuries or simple health issues.

The Additional Procedures

The one main distinction of freestanding emergency rooms from urgent care centers is that they can provide more procedures. It usually means they can offer a high level of care and additional procedures, such as defibrillation, intubation, and sedation. They also have state-of-the-art equipment, which is used for diagnostic testing. That’s why they have more medical professionals on board, such as a laboratory technician and radiologists. Urgent care centers can’t perform these procedures because no medical professionals can do it for you. So if you’re experiencing more than just a minor injury, a freestanding ER is the best place.

Different Operating Hours

Another difference between a freestanding ER and an urgent care center is the operating hours. Since a freestanding ER is basically an emergency room outside of a hospital, they mostly operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to cater to all emergencies. This is true for hospital-owned freestanding ERs. But there are private-owned freestanding ERs that have fewer hours too. While urgent care centers operate few hours, but they’re open almost every day too. That means you have a higher chance of getting emergency care with a freestanding ER compared to an urgent care center.

Final Thoughts

Overall, freestanding ERs are the best place if you need urgent medical care. If you know that it’s more than just a minor health issue, going to the ER is the best choice. It’s highly advised to only go to the urgent care center for minor injuries that are not life-threatening.

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