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Urgent Care vs. Emergency Care

Urgent Care vs. Emergency Care

When faced with a sudden medical issue, knowing where to turn for the appropriate level of care is essential. Urgent and emergency care are distinct healthcare services, so understanding the differences between these two options can help you make informed decisions and receive prompt and appropriate treatment.

In recognition of St. John’s new urgent care location in Teton Village, our team is delving into the differences between urgent care and emergency care, exploring the services they offer, their purpose, and when to seek each type of care.

What is Urgent Care?

Urgent care centers are medical facilities designed to handle non-life-threatening conditions that require immediate attention but do not merit a visit to the emergency room. These facilities provide timely access to medical care outside regular office hours, including evenings and weekends. Urgent care centers offer a broad range of services, such as:

Evaluation and Treatment of Minor Injuries

  • Sprains, strains, and fractures
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Minor burns
  • Minor dislocations

Treatment of Common Illnesses

  • Cold and flu symptoms
  • Fever
  • Earaches and sore throat
  • Urinary tract infections

Diagnostic Services

  • EKG (Electrocardiogram)
  • X-rays
  • Laboratory tests (e.g., blood tests, rapid strep tests)

Other Services

  • Vaccinations

Get to know our Urgent Care locations in Smith’s Plaza and Teton Village.

What is Emergency Care?

Emergency care refers to medical services provided in emergency rooms (ERs) or hospitals equipped to handle life-threatening situations that require immediate medical attention. Emergency care primarily aims to stabilize patients and treat severe conditions. Emergency care services include, but are not limited to:

Treatment of Life-Threatening Injuries and Conditions

  • Severe trauma
  • Heart attacks
  • Stroke
  • Severe bleeding

Evaluation and Treatment of Acute Illnesses

  • Severe difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

Comprehensive Diagnostic Services

  • Advanced imaging (e.g., CT scans, MRIs)
  • EKG (Electrocardiogram)
  • Laboratory tests (e.g., comprehensive blood panels) with fast results

Surgical Procedures

  • Emergency surgeries
  • Critical care procedures

Understanding the Differences

While urgent care centers and emergency rooms share the goal of providing medical care, there are significant distinctions between the two:

Severity of Conditions

Urgent care centers are equipped to handle non-life-threatening conditions requiring prompt attention, but not emergencies.

On the other hand, emergency rooms specialize in critical care and life-threatening situations that demand immediate attention and comprehensive resources.


Urgent care services are generally more affordable than emergency room visits.

Emergency care is often more expensive due to the higher level of resources and specialized medical staff required.

When to Seek Urgent Care vs. Emergency Care

Understanding when to seek urgent care or emergency care is vital to ensure appropriate and timely treatment:

Urgent Care

  • Mild to moderate cuts or injuries that require stitches or X-rays
  • Minor illnesses, such as cold or flu symptoms
  • Mild to moderate pain or discomfort

Emergency Care

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Severe injuries, such as head trauma or deep wounds
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sudden loss of consciousness or seizures

Seek Urgent Care with Us Today!

Urgent and emergency care is crucial in providing appropriate medical services for various conditions. If you or a loved one require urgent care services, stop in at one of our convenient locations near you for expert treatment today!