Is an urgent illness or injury always an emergency?

Whether you’re suddenly stricken with a migraine or fever, a visit to your primary- care doctor is not always an option. Due to a reduction in available primary-care appointments and limited office hours, you may need to decide between enduring the emergency room or walking into an urgent-care center. Do your research now so you can make a well-informed decision when the time comes for care.


If your injury or illness is life or limb threatening, you need to head to the emergency room. The ER specializes in catastrophic illnesses and injuries, including signs of heart attack, severe shortness of breath, loss of consciousness, poisoning, severe wounds or amputation, uncontrolled bleeding, unusual abdominal pain, or coughing or vomiting blood. If you’re experiencing severe symptoms, including any of the ones listed above, you need immediate emergency care.

Wait time

In the ER, patients with the most life-threatening circumstances are seen first. If your situation is not life threatening, you will endure a wait, possibly for hours. Urgent-care centers do not face incoming ambulances or trauma situations; therefore, wait times are significantly shorter— often a half hour or less.


While you may have overcome your injury or illness, being hit with the bill can be painful. The bottom line is that the cost of an urgent-care visit is substantially less than the cost of an ER visit. The average cost of an urgent-care visit for a common illness such as a middle-ear infection is $155, while the bill for having the same illness treated at the ER can average $570.

There are over 110 million emergency room visits annually— should you be one of the 110 million, or is a visit to an urgent-care facility a better option?

Pediatric Health is sponsored by Pediatrics Associates of Lakeland and Pediatric Partners of Winter Haven.


column by DIANE BRANNEN, Clinic Administrator, Owl Now Urgent Care

BIO: Dianne Brannen is the clinical administrator for Owl Now Urgent Care, which has two convenient locations in Lakeland and Winter Haven and is open every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, go to

Accessibility Toolbar