Where To Go For Care

How to determine the best choice for your care.

When you're not feeling well, it's important to get the appropriate care you need. But sometimes it can be hard to determine whether to see your primary care doctor or go to an urgent care or the emergency room. 

Here are some guidelines to help you choose. 

Primary Care Provider

Your primary care provider can address most illnesses and injuries that are not life threatening and should be your first choice for care. Because they know you and your health history, they can recommend the best treatment for you.

The clinic in which your PCP works is also a great resource. Many offer minor surgical procedures, blood draws for lab work, X-rays, and same-day appointments so you can be seen by any available provider. The cost to see a PCP is often much less than being treated at an urgent care or hospital. 

Seek care from your primary care provider for:

  • Annual checkups and immunizations
  • Cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms
  • Lingering pain
  • Allergies

Urgent Care or Same-Day Clinics

For illnesses and injuries that can’t be treated in a primary care clinic or during normal clinic hours, an urgent care or same-day clinic is the right choice.

These clinics provide many of the same services as primary care clinics, but are often open evenings, weekends and even some holidays with the option to walk in without an appointment. The providers give the same great, compassionate care you need in the moment. 

Be aware that many same-day or walk-in clinics do not have X-ray capabilities, while most urgent care locations do. 

Seek care at an urgent care or same-day clinic for:

  • Asthma attacks
  • Moderate burns or cuts
  • Sprains or breaks
  • Moderate illnesses that may require rapid tests 

Emergency Department

For illness and injuries that may be life-threatening, go directly to the emergency department or call 911. 

The ED is the right place for serious conditions that may require immediate treatment or immediate results from imaging or testing.

Seek care at the emergency department for:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe burns or cuts
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Major fractures (broken bones)

Something else to consider when deciding where to take someone with a serious medical issue is the patient’s age and overall health. For example, infants under three months old – especially those with a fever--should be treated at the ED.

When in doubt, don't delay care. If you think you are having a true medical emergency, call 911 or seek medical attention right away.