Urgent Care vs. Emergency Care

A Patient’s Guide to Getting the Best Care Possible

In a medical emergency, call 911 immediately. In situations when urgent care vs. an emergency room visit is not clear, then the information below can help.

When Should You Use Urgent Care?

Urgent Care centers are designed for illnesses and injuries that require medical attention, but are not life-threatening. Urgent Care is a good place to receive care after hours, holidays or when your Primary Care provider isn’t available. Urgent Care physicians will treat the problem then recommend follow-up with your Primary Care doctor or nurse.

Go to Urgent Care for:

  • Bladder infections
  • Bug bites or small animal bites
  • Coughs, congestion and sinus problems
  • Ear infections
  • Mild fevers
  • Minor burns
  • Pink eye or other minor eye problems
  • Rashes
  • Sprains or minor injuries
  • Throat pain

When Should You Go to an Emergency Room?

Emergency Care is meant for serious medical conditions where delaying care could cause permanent harm or even death. If you or a family member encounters something like that, it’s important to seek immediate care at an Emergency Room (ER) or by calling 911. Emergency responders are trained to react quickly and transport you to the facility that best meets your needs.

Visit an ER for:

  • Attempted suicide
  • Broken bones
  • Chest pain
  • Children under three months who need immediate care
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Extreme pain, especially if the cause is unknown
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Severe burns
  • Severe head pain or injury, including loss of vision
  • Suspected drug overdose
  • Suspected poisoning
  • Uncontrolled breathing

Primary Care is Almost Always Your Best Choice

Primary Care provider is the best friend your family’s health will ever have. Primary Care providers are often family doctors, nurses, or doctors of internal medicine. Some specialize in treating children. Others specialize in medical care for women. Whichever kind you choose, a Primary Care provider’s job is to get to know you, learn about your health, your needs, and your concerns. They help you stay healthy with routine medical checkups, wellness tips and preventive measures.

If you need additional care, Primary Care providers can connect you to specialists and other resources you may need.

See your Primary Care provider for:

  • Existing conditions like asthma, diabetes, hypertension, etc.
  • Follow-up health checks
  • Medical information for continued care at home
  • Preventive care—tests, immunizations, flu shots, etc.
  • Recommendations for specialists when serious problems arise
  • Regular exams
  • Undiagnosed problems
  • Wellness advice on things like diet, exercise,ways to quit smoking, weight management, etc.

To find a specialist, use our find a doctor search and select the kind of doctor you need.