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What Are the Different Types of Emergency Care Facilities?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 17, 2024
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Emergency care facilities are designed to provide immediate, responsive care for acute medical conditions. There are several different types of emergency care facilities, including mobile emergency care, urgent care centers, and emergency rooms. Some long-term care organizations, such as homes for the elderly, may also have on-site emergency care facilities for the use of residents.

Mobile emergency care facilities, such as ambulances and rapid response units, help get immediate medical attention to those with sudden illnesses or severe injuries. While an ambulance is not equipped to provide full-service care, it may prove life saving to any person in need of basic emergency care, such as CPR. Mobile facilities can also be crucial to those unable to drive themselves to a hospital, or for those rendered incapacitated by their condition. Ambulances may be affiliated with a specific hospital, or may be run as a private service through a third party. Contacting an ambulance for immediate attention is usually done through a local emergency number, such as 9-1-1 in the United States.

An urgent care center may be an option for patients who do not believe their condition is life-threatening, but cannot wait to visit a general practitioner. These facilities can provide basic diagnostic care and treatment, and have the advantage of working on a drop-in basis for acute conditions. While not technically emergency care facilities, urgent care centers usually work closely with local hospitals, and can arrange for the fast transport of a patient to a full-service facility should his or her condition warrant emergency attention. Since urgent care centers are staffed by doctors and nurses, they are also capable of providing basic emergency medical procedures if necessary.

One of the most common types of emergency care facilities are hospital emergency rooms. These care centers allow drop-in visits for patients with acute conditions, and are capable of handling large-scale emergencies and a wide range of life-threatening conditions. Many emergency rooms operate on a triage system, meaning that patients are seen according to severity of condition rather than by arrival time. For those experiencing non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries, this can entail a long waiting period before a doctor is available.

While emergency care facilities can be the best choice for handling an acute, dangerous condition, they generally do not provide full-service diagnostic or care services. The general priority of an emergency care center is to treat the immediate risk, then provide recommendations for further care once the danger has passed. While no one should hesitate to seek emergency care if he or she feels it is warranted, those with less dangerous conditions may want to visit an urgent care center or personal physician for more comprehensive treatment.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis , Writer
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGeek. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

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Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis


With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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