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LisaHOEKSTRAusethisoneAsk A Doc | Lisa Hoekstra, MD from NOCHS Urgent Care

How do I know when to go to Urgent Care versus the Emergency Department?

Good question. It can be difficult to determine where to go to get the appropriate level of care.

Urgent Care centers are designed to treat a variety of illnesses and injuries that need to be taken care of right away but are not life-threatening. Urgent Care centers are open after hours, on weekends and holidays and can provide care when your primary care provider is not available. The Emergency Department should be used when you have a serious medical condition that could cause permanent harm or even death if treatment is delayed.

Here are some examples of conditions that can be treated in the Urgent Care and other conditions that should be handled in the Emergency Department:

Urgent Care
• Sore throat or ear pain
• Cough, congestion and sinus problems
• Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
• Bladder infections
• Rashes
• Minor burns
• Sprains or injuries
• Pink eye or minor eye problems
• Lacerations or animal bites
• Vaginal infections or STD concerns
• Bug bites
• Sports physicals

Emergency Department
• Chest pain
• Difficulty breathing
• Severe abdominal or pelvic pain
• Ill infants less than 3 months old
• Loss of consciousness
• Severe burns
• Obvious broken bones
• Suspected overdose or poisoning
• Severe injuries or uncontrolled bleeding
• Neurologic changes including loss of vision
• Seizure activity
• Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)
• Acute mental health issues (nervous breakdowns, suicidal thoughts)