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Emergency Care versus Urgent Care

by Brian Patel, MD, FACEP, Chief, Emergency Care Center and Ron Van Ness-Otunnu, MD, FACEP, Associate Chief, Emergency Care Center, Sturdy Memorial Hospital, Attleboro, Massachusetts

When you are experiencing symptoms of a stroke, heart attack, head injury, or other life-threatening emergency you should always call 911 and proceed by ambulance to the nearest emergency department. But what about those times where you have a medical issue that is not necessarily an emergency but still requires medical attention sooner rather than later? For those occasions, you should consider visiting an Urgent Care Center.

Sturdy recently opened up its first stand-alone urgent care center in South Attleboro to provide patients with access to expert medical care and to fill the gap for patients who experience urgent, but not emergent, medical issues. If the medical issue is something for which you would normally follow-up with your primary care provider but the office is not open, an Urgent Care Center is likely more suitable.

Below is a quick guide of “emergent” problems, for which a visit to the Emergency Care Center at Sturdy Memorial Hospital is recommended, versus “urgent” problems, for which the Urgent Care Center in South Attleboro, is appropriate.

Emergency v. Urgent

If your symptoms are severe and you feel you are having a medical emergency it is always best to call 911 and proceed directly to your nearest emergency department. If you are having what you believe to be an urgent medical situation, try to first contact your primary care provider. If he or she cannot see you, the Urgent Care Center can fill the gap.