By Adriana Vulvic, FNP, Primary Care Provider at Jewish Family & Children’s
Service’s Michael R. Zent Healthcare Center
Deciding between the emergency room and urgent care can be a tough and
stressful decision¾ especially if you’re not feeling well,
are in pain or feel you need immediate medical attention.
The following guide is meant to help your decision-making process but remember…always
follow your gut. If something about your health feels so off that you’re
considering a visit to the emergency room, don’t let anything on
the following list stop you from receiving the care you need and deserve.
MAY be the right choice if you…
- have a medical issue that is not threatening your life or a body part
- have mild to moderate cold- or flu-like symptoms that aren’t responding
- have what seems like a minor bone fracture
- would normally see a primary care doctor but don’t want to wait
- have a fever without a rash
- are vomiting or have persistent diarrhea
- have abdominal pain
- think you are dehydrated
- have a sprain or strain
- have a small cut that may require stitches
It’s Important to Note…
Urgent care is
NOT a replacement for regular, preventive care that you would receive from
your primary care provider. You should never put off routine screenings
and check-ups with the thought that you can just go to urgent care if
you need medical attention. Urgent care is meant to be a complement to
your normal preventive care, not a substitute.
MAY be the right decision if you…
- are having a hard time breathing.
- have chest pain (especially on the left side) and are at an increased risk
for heart disease.
- are experiencing sudden paralysis, trouble speaking, confusion, and other
- have a fever and severe abdominal pain along with issues like nausea, fatigue,
stomach swelling, and lethargy.
- are dealing with any illness or injury that is limb- or life-threatening.
- have weakness/numbness on one side
- have slurred speech
- fainted or have a change in mental state
- have serious burns
- have a head or eye injury
- have a concussion/confusion
- have broken bones and dislocated joints
- have a fever with a rash
- are having seizures
- have severe cuts that may require stitches
- have facial lacerations
- are experiencing severe cold or flu symptoms
- are experiencing vaginal bleeding with pregnancy
It’s Important to Note…
If you’ve determined that emergency care is the proper course of
action, calling 911for an ambulance means paramedics can begin delivering
life-saving treatment on the way to the hospital, which can be the difference
between life and death for a stroke or heart attack victim.