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Urgent Care vs. Emergency Care: What's the Difference?

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Urgent Care or Emergency Care?

When you need immediate medical attention, you may find yourself wondering: Do I need urgent care or emergency care? There are big differences in these two services. Making the right choice could not only save a life, but also a lot of time and money. Here’s what you need know about these two immediate care options to help you make the right choice at the right time.

Urgent Care

When you need care for a minor medical issue but your primary care provider isn’t able to get you in for an appointment, visiting a St. Luke’s Urgent Care Clinic is a good option. These clinics are open seven days a week from 10 am to 8 pm and you do not need an appointment, but they can have longer wait times than a typical office, eCare or Q Care visit. Urgent care is also a more expensive immediate care option than eCare or Q Care.

It is important to note that Urgent Care is designed to treat minor health concerns that do not appear to be serious or life-threatening. Visit one of St. Luke’s Urgent Care Clinics for minor health concerns such as:

  • Cold symptoms
  • Earache
  • Flu symptoms
  • Minor rashes
  • Minor cuts, burns, or bruising
  • Minor injuries that require stitches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pink eye
  • Sore throat
  • Sprain, strain, or broken bones
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)

Emergency Care

If you or a loved one is experiencing signs of a medical emergency call 911 or go to Aspirus St. Luke's Regional Trauma Center (St. Luke’s ER) for emergency care. St. Luke’s ER is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Wait times can be longer if you have a minor condition and a visit to the ER is the most expensive immediate care option, but if you have a life-threatening or serious illness or injury, it is the best place to go. Signs of a medical emergency include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Confusion and/or unusual mood swings
  • Continuous vomiting or diarrhea
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Fainting
  • Head or eye injuries
  • Serious injuries
  • Severe bleeding
  • Signs of a severe allergic reaction
  • Sudden difficulty breathing
  • Suicidal thoughts

Immediate Care in Duluth

At Aspirus St. Luke's, our team of medical staff provides high-quality, compassionate care to people in northeastern Minnesota, northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. To learn more about our immediate care services visit our website or give us a call at (218) 249-4000.