Comparing Emergency Rooms and Urgent Care Centers

When you experience a medical issue, there are many options available. So many that sometimes it can be hard to determine where to go for care. What are your choices if you experience a medical emergency and can’t see your primary care physician (PCP) or your crisis is after hours? Understanding the difference between an urgent care center and an emergency room (ER) is crucial to receiving the appropriate treatment.

Frontline ER is a Standalone Emergency Room

Our standalone or free-standing ERs provide 24-hour emergency care and are staffed with highly trained medical professionals. Frontline ER is a full-service emergency room with on-site laboratories, digital imaging capabilities, and even state-licensed pharmacies (for patient care). We can treat symptoms ranging from chest pain, vomiting, urinary tract infections, and abdominal pain to more severe wounds and potentially life-threatening conditions.

Urgent Care Centers

Urgent care centers provide treatment to patients with less severe conditions when their primary care physician is unavailable. An urgent care may or may not be staffed by a physician at all times, and they are generally not equipped to handle major trauma, injuries, or other serious conditions. They also, typically, do not have imaging or lab capabilities, which means that if your condition requires these services, you will be sent to an ER for more comprehensive care.  Urgent Cares are not open 24 hours.

FAQs About ERs Versus Urgent Cares

Is my problem just urgent, or is it a medical emergency?

If you can’t wait to see your PCP and must be seen immediately, then your condition is very possibly considered a medical emergency. If your medical issue requires immediate medical attention, then our well-equipped ER is the better choice. Most urgent cares are generally not equipped to handle life-threatening illnesses or injuries.

What medical emergencies would make me choose Frontline ER?

Examples of a medical emergency include:

  • Chest pain
  • Headaches\Migraines
  • Abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting\Diarreah
  • Fainting\Weakness
  • Stroke symptoms
  • Cardiac issues
  • Cuts\Lacerations
  • Broken bones
  • Fever
  • Head injury
  • Neck and back pain
  • Motor vehicle accident injuries
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Active Covid Symptoms
  • Bleeding
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Infections
  • Animal Bites


Why is Frontline ER a better choice for life-threatening medical emergencies?

We are open 24/7/365 and have minimal waits to see a physician. Frontline ER is staffed by board-certified ER physicians, physician’s assistants, and emergency-trained nurses.   With our on-site laboratory and diagnostic imaging capabilities, we can quickly diagnose a patient and implement treatment.

But what about the cost?

According to Texas law, all insurance companies must cover medical emergencies at in-network rates if you visit a free-standing ER.  Frontline ER accepts your insurance in-network payment and does not pass the out-of-network expense to the patient.  We do not balance bill. Additionally, we accept the same co-pay as a hospital emergency room. 

What factors should be top of mind as I choose Frontline ER?

Keep in mind the following when deciding where to go for treatment:

  • Rapidly accelerating symptoms:A minor injury or illness can turn serious very quickly, so look for symptoms like a sudden and excruciating headache, isolated pain (particularly in your right side), and/or blood in your urine or stools. These symptoms often indicate a more serious condition and deserve immediate emergency attention.
  • Time of day:  Urgent cares are mostly open only during normal business hours, while Frontline ER is ALWAYSDepending on the severity of your condition, how quickly you want treatment can be a significant factor to weigh when choosing between facilities.