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Immediate Care vs. Urgent Care

Immediate Care vs. Urgent Care
October 1, 2018 keichie

You might have heard the phrases immediate care and urgent care when seeking timely medical attention for minor injuries or illnesses. Many people rely on these facilities when their primary care physicians are not available and the emergency room is not an option. But is there a different between the two?

The Terms Immediate Care and Urgent Care are Synonymous

Immediate Care

Immediate Care is defined as instant medical care needed “at the current time”, for a patient with non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries. These medical needs are not severe enough to require a trip to the emergency room.

Urgent Care

Urgent Care is defined as medical care provided for acute illness or injuries that require rapid attention but are not severe enough to demand the services of an emergency room.

The terms immediate care and urgent care are synonymous. However, this was not always the case. Until January 15th, 2015, Illinois residents knew the phrase ‘urgent care’ to only be affiliated with emergency rooms. According to Illinois Law 3506: “Traditional urgent care facilities were prohibited to use the term ‘urgent’ in their titles due to any misconceptions of the type of services they offer. The term had significant risk to the public and any patient with critical or life-threatening condition seeking such facility.”

Effective January 2015, the State of Illinois allowed medical facilities to use the term ‘urgent’. Now, the phrases immediate care and urgent care are interchangeable.

When to go to an Immediate Care/ Urgent Care Center?

Seek an urgent care center for any acute injuries or illnesses that require medical attention. Children’s Urgent Care provides services for the following:

  • Onsite Lab Testing: Flu, Strep, RSV, Mono
  • Urinalysis & Bacterial Cultures
  • X-Rays & Orthoglass Splinting
  • Common Illness Treatments Such as Cold & Flu
  • Laceration Repairs (Stitches, Staples, and Liquiband)
  • Foreign Object Removals
  • Minor Burns
  • Asthma Related Issues
  • Allergies
  • Sore Throat
  • Mild Allergic Reactions
  • Skin Irritations
  • Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
  • Ear Infections
  • Head Lice
  • Animal Bites
  • Flu Shots
  • Sports Physicals

Why Choose Urgent Care? 

Urgent Care centers are the after-hours solution to the long wait times of adult urgent care centers and crowded ERs. They provide convenient and fast services at a lower cost. Most centers accept insurance which result in a $30-$55 copay for your visit and do not require appointments to be seen by a provider.

If your little one is experiencing cold and flu like symptoms visit our website to find a Children’s Urgent Care clinic near you. Our pediatric trained staff provides immediate care seven days a week, no appointments necessary. We now offer extended operating.



  1. Taylor Bishop 9 months ago

    Thanks for helping me learn more about immediate care and urgent care. It’s good to know urgent care could help deal with ear infections. This seems it could be useful especially if you want immediate help with it and to get the infection treated as soon as possible.

    • Author
      keichie 9 months ago

      Taylor, we are so happy to hear you found our post helpful! Absolutely, most urgent care centers can treat a wide variety of medical needs, from ear infections to x-rays on a walk-in basis. These facilities are more affordable than going to the emergency room AND average wait times can range from 5-15 minutes, which is great when you need immediate attention. Let us know if you have any more questions, we are always here to help!

  2. Amy Winters 9 months ago

    Thanks for pointing out that most urgent care centers accept insurance, so you’ll probably end up paying a copay of $30-$55. I’m watching my nephews this weekend, so I’m glad you know I’ll be covered in case they end up needing urgent care. I learned some helpful tips about medical care, so thanks for sharing this info!

    • Author
      keichie 9 months ago

      Amy, so glad you found this helpful. Thank you for taking the time out to read! Yes, many people choose pediatric urgent care facilities for the lower costs, short wait times, and the all pediatric trained staff. When going to an emergency room, you are not guaranteed a visit with a pediatric trained provider. Urgent Care centers aim to be as convenient as possible!

  3. Michael Lee 9 months ago

    Before I read this article, I did not know that Urgent Care and Immediate Care are the same things. It is interesting to me that Illinois did not allow Immediate Care centers to use the word Urgent in their name. It does make sense why though since people might seek it out when they should go to an emergency room.

  4. Jon Hardtke 8 months ago

    Wow, I didn’t know this change was so recent in Illinois. It seems like urgent care has been such an important resource for reducing inefficiencies with care services delivered in hospital and ER settings. Things are changing so fast. I’m now hearing about more and more health insurance plans that make patients pay more if they end up going to the ER instead of urgent care for non-emergency healthcare. They then offer free nursing hotlines to help people figure out where to go.

  5. Daphne Gilpin 6 months ago

    Thanks for explaining that the terms “urgent care” and “immediate care” are interchangeable as of January 2015. Lately I’ve been interested in learning more about my options for local health care. I never really knew the difference between those two terms, so thanks for explaining the process that lead to them being interchangeable.

  6. Angela Waterford 3 months ago

    I think it’s actually the first time I heard of health care providers such as urgent care. Thanks for clarifying that urgent care clinics are the ones I should go to if I have an acute illness that needs to be addressed. Maybe I’ll go to urgent care next time because I don’t have to experience long wait times anymore so I’ll go to one next month for a checkup if my sprain does not go away.

  7. Adrian Jones 3 months ago

    It’s a good thing you talked about how accessible urgent care is when you have an emergency at home and it concerns your child, yet you’ve gotten home so late the regular doctor isn’t available to see you. Having urgent care centers operate after-hours is a good idea since it lets busy parents find the time to visit the doctor and ask them what’s wrong with their children when they’re feeling under the weather and don’t know why. If I had the chance to go to an urgent care doctor then I’d want to make sure I can tell them about the symptoms that my child would’ve been experiencing.

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