Can Urgent Care Replace The ER? What You Need To Know

The healthcare landscape can often be confusing, especially when it comes to deciding between visiting an urgent care center or the emergency room (ER). Understanding the differences between these two healthcare options is essential for making informed decisions about your health. TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, with over 19 walk-in clinic locations across the greater Tampa Bay area offers a valuable alternative to traditional ER visits for many medical situations. If you’re ever unsure about the severity of a medical condition, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. For life-threatening emergencies, call 911 or go to the nearest ER. However, for many common ailments and injuries, urgent care can provide the timely and effective treatment you need.

Understanding The Difference Between Urgent Care and Emergency Room Care

What is Urgent Care?

Urgent care centers, like TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track,  provide immediate medical attention for non-life-threatening conditions that require prompt treatment but are not severe enough to warrant an ER visit. These clinics are typically open beyond regular office hours, including evenings and weekends, making them a convenient option for sudden illnesses or injuries. TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track offers a range of services, including treatment for minor fractures, infections, sprains, and other urgent medical issues.

What are Emergency Rooms?

The ER is designed to handle severe, life-threatening conditions that require immediate, intensive care. Emergency rooms are equipped with advanced medical technology and staffed by specialists capable of handling critical situations such as heart attacks, severe bleeding, major trauma, and other serious medical emergencies.

Criteria for Choosing Between Urgent Care and the ER

When facing a medical issue, it can be challenging to decide whether to seek help at an urgent care center or head straight to the emergency room. This decision largely depends on the severity and nature of the health problem. Urgent care centers are suitable for non-life-threatening conditions that require prompt attention, while the ER should be reserved for serious and potentially life-threatening emergencies. Here are some detailed guidelines on when to opt for each option so that you can make an informed choice:

When to Choose Urgent Care Clinics

  1. Minor Injuries: Urgent care is suitable for treating minor injuries such as sprains, strains, minor fractures, cuts needing stitches, and minor burns.
  2. Illnesses: Conditions like flu, colds, sore throats, ear infections, and urinary tract infections can be efficiently treated at an urgent care center.
  3. Routine Care: Non-emergency needs such as physical exams and lab tests can be handled at urgent care clinics.
  4. Moderate Asthma Attacks: If you experience an asthma attack that is not severe but requires prompt attention, urgent care can provide the necessary treatment.

When to Choose the ER

  1. Severe Chest Pain: Sudden, severe chest pain or pressure could indicate a heart attack, requiring immediate ER attention.
  2. Severe Bleeding: Profuse bleeding that cannot be controlled needs the advanced care available in an ER.
  3. Major Trauma: Serious injuries from car accidents, falls, or other traumatic events should be treated in the ER.
  4. Severe Breathing Problems: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath could signify a severe respiratory issue needing ER intervention.
  5. Loss of Consciousness: Any situation where someone loses consciousness should be treated as an emergency.

Advantages of Choosing TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track

TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track offers numerous benefits, making it an excellent choice for many medical needs:


TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track ensures accessible, high-quality healthcare with over 19 walk-in clinic locations across the greater Tampa Bay area. Our clinics are strategically placed in the Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties to minimize your travel time, making it easier to receive care promptly when you need it most. All of our locations are open from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, providing flexibility to visit us at a time that best suits your schedule. You can find the clinic closest to you by clicking here.

Additionally, our On My Way System is designed to streamline your visit and reduce waiting times. This system allows you to fill out necessary forms with your information online before arrival, expediting the check-in process at the clinic. Whether it’s a sudden illness or a minor injury, TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track is committed to providing efficient and convenient healthcare solutions.


Historically, the cost of visiting urgent care centers, like those at TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, is often lower than ER visits. However, the actual costs can vary significantly depending on the specific treatments and diagnostic tests required. For accurate and up-to-date information on pricing and to ensure there are no surprises, we encourage you to contact our office directly. This way, you can make informed decisions about your healthcare options based on your individual needs.

Comprehensive Services

At TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, we provide comprehensive healthcare services, treating a wide array of conditions and offering various medical services:

Illnesses and Symptoms:

  • Respiratory infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and upper respiratory infections
  • Flu-like symptoms, colds, fevers, and sinus infections
  • Throat-related issues including strep throat, sore throat, and tonsillitis
  • Gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach concerns
  • Eye infections and injuries, including Pink Eye
  • Ear infections, urinary tract infections, and skin infections
  • Allergies, mononucleosis, and monkeypox

Injury Care:

  • Treatment for minor fractures, sprains, and cuts
  • Care for minor wounds, lacerations, minor burns, and insect bites/stings

Diagnostic and Screening Services:

  • X-rays for diagnosing fractures, lung issues, and abdominal concerns
  • Lab tests and screenings, including glucose testing, urinalysis, and throat cultures

Physical Exams and Wellness Checks:

  • General physical exams and wellness checks
  • Sports physicals and presurgical clearances, including X-ray, EKG, and bloodwork

Compassionate Care

At TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, patients receive compassionate and personalized care tailored to their specific health needs. Our medical staff, renowned for their empathy and professionalism, is dedicated to providing a positive healthcare experience. They go beyond treating symptoms, focusing on holistic well-being and patient comfort. Each team member is committed to creating a supportive and understanding environment, ensuring that every visit is handled with the utmost care and respect. Whether you are dealing with a minor injury or a more complex health issue, our team is here to support you through your recovery journey, making healthcare feel more personal and less stressful.

Common Questions About Urgent Care and ER Visits

An emergency is typically characterized by severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention. If you experience any of the following, you should go to the ER:

  • Severe chest pain or pressure
  • Profuse, uncontrollable bleeding
  • Major trauma or injury
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sudden, severe pain

Most insurance plans cover urgent care visits, but it’s essential to check with your specific provider to understand your coverage. TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track accepts many insurance plans and offers transparent pricing for those without insurance. For a full list of insurances we provide, click here.

When visiting an urgent care center, it’s helpful to bring:

  • Identification (e.g., driver’s license)
  • Insurance card (if applicable)
  • List of any medications you are currently taking
  • Information about your medical history
  • Payment method for any co-pays or fees

Making the Right Choice

Choosing between urgent care and the ER can be challenging, but understanding the differences and considering factors like the severity of the condition and cost implications can help you make an informed decision. For non-life-threatening medical issues, TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track offers a practical, affordable, and efficient alternative to the ER. If you are in need of urgent care services, find the nearest TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track clinic near you by clicking here. All of our clinics are open from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, 7 days a week to ensure that all of our patients have care available to them when they need it.


The blogs presented by TGH Urgent Care in partnership with Fast Track are not a replacement for medical care and are exclusively intended for educational purposes. The content provided here should not be construed as medical guidance. If you are encountering any symptoms, we strongly recommend that you seek an appointment with a duly qualified medical practitioner at our nearest facility.

Employer Solutions

Our goal is to provide exceptional patient care with a strong return-to-work philosophy. We can help you control your healthcare costs by reducing emergency room visits. We are here to give you and your employees a convenient, quality-focused choice for all your occupational health and work injury management needs.


Available Positions

  • X-Ray Tech
  • MA
  • LPN
  • NP/PA
  • Medical Receptionist
  • Admin Support and more!


Commitment to Responsible Prescribing Practices

We are committed to responsible antibiotic prescribing practices. Our goal is to adequately treat infections while protecting our community from the harmful effects of antibiotic resistant infections. TGH Urgent Care has earned the Antibiotic Stewardship Commendation Award from the Urgent Care Association due to our ongoing commitment to this goal.

You dealt with my issue promptly and efficiently and i was on my way.

Stephen S.
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Fast, quick, responsive, professional and courteous.

Melanie G.
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The staff was wonderful, very caring and truly cared about how I was.

Brandy P.
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The wait was minimum and the PA was very understanding. The staff at the front desk could be a bit more friendly. Other than that, good overall experience.

Alexander C.
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CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN and very friendly!!!

Rosaria F.
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The entire staff was so friendly & helpful. Our first visit here was quick, the office was very clean & they were great with my kids. We will be back for sure!

Sandra P.
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By far the nicest urgent care I've had the unfortunate opportunity to experience. The cleanliness and friendliness of this clinic are unmatched. - Sara S.

Sara S.
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