What is Urgent Care? When Should You Use It?


Urgent care centers are a great alternative to emergency rooms. If you need medical attention quickly, they can offer treatment at a lower cost than in-hospital treatment. But what is urgent care? When should you use it? And when should you go to the emergency room instead? In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about urgent care centers and whether or not it’s worth using them for your next trip to the doctor.

Urgent care centers can be a convenient and often more affordable alternative to an emergency department visit.

Urgent care centers like Urgent Care Madisonville can be a convenient and often more affordable alternative to an emergency department visit.

  • You may have an illness or injury that’s not serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital, but it needs immediate attention. An urgent care center can help you get treatment quickly, even if your symptoms are minor.
  • You’re already at home or work when you’re feeling ill, but there aren’t any nearby hospitals with 24-hour emergency departments nearby (or even within driving distance). If you don’t have access to transportation and need medical attention right away, urgent care centers are an option worth considering—they may only take cash payments (though some locations accept credit cards), but they typically offer walk-in hours and shorter wait times than those found at hospitals’ emergency departments.

What is urgent care?

Urgent care is a walk-in clinic that provides immediate treatment to patients for non-life-threatening conditions. It’s also known as emergency room–like care, but it can be used for more minor ailments and injuries than the emergency room.

Urgent care facilities are staffed with doctors who offer basic medical services like blood pressure checks, X-rays and stitches. Urgent care centers may have some specialty services available such as immunizations or testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

When should I use urgent care?

Urgent care is a good option for minor injuries, illnesses and illnesses that aren’t life-threatening. If you have an injury or illness that isn’t serious, but also isn’t normal (like a piercing or blister), then you should use urgent care.

There are also some things to consider when deciding whether or not your condition necessitates urgent care:

  • Illnesses that are not contagious—for example, flu symptoms cannot be spread through air unless there is an open wound or shared by people who have been in close contact with each other. If someone has the flu, they will likely have cold symptoms as well (such as coughs) which can cause respiratory issues if left untreated for too long at once; however these aren’t serious enough to warrant immediate attention from paramedics who might otherwise rush over just because someone said “flu.”
  • Illnesses that aren’t severe enough yet—even though it sounds obvious in retrospect considering how many people get sick every year around this time of year

When should I go to the emergency room instead?

If you have a serious injury or illness, or if you are having a heart attack, stroke, or other life-threatening emergency, go to the emergency room immediately.

If your symptoms are consistent with an allergic reaction (for example: hives; swelling around the mouth), call 911 and get medical help right away.

If you think that your symptoms may be related to meningitis (a serious bacterial infection) or sepsis (an immune response that can lead to organ failure), see a doctor right away before going to an urgent care center.

Urgent care can be cheaper than ER visits, but it’s not for serious issues.

Urgent care is a great option for people who want to avoid the wait times and costs of an emergency room. But if you think you need urgent care, be sure to check your insurance benefits first. Many plans have restrictions on what they’ll pay for and when they’ll pay it, so be sure to ask your doctor or insurance provider about any limitations before heading out the door.

It’s possible that if you visit an urgent care clinic, your treatment will be cheaper than if you went straight through the ER doors—but this isn’t always true! You should still make sure that whatever problem comes up during your visit is one that falls under one of these four categories:

  • Serious illness requiring immediate attention (like heart attack)
  • Serious injury requiring immediate attention (like broken bones)
  • Non-urgent medical condition whose management could wait until another day; this includes things like colds and stomachaches


The bottom line is that if you have a minor injury or illness, urgent care may be a good alternative to the emergency room. However, if you have a serious condition and need immediate treatment, your best bet is going to be an ER visit.