What’s the Difference?

June 29, 2018

When life throws you a curve ball, it’s not always easy to know in which direction you should swing. The same can be said of an unexpected health crisis—where do you go to receive the most effective, beneficial, and affordable care available?

In the moment, which is stressful enough as is, it’s important to take the time to evaluate the situation. Are the symptoms life-threatening or not? Do they require quick treatment or immediate care? Figuring out the answers to these questions will help you decide whether you should visit an urgent care center or the emergency room (ER), and in turn, make sure you receive the most appropriate, timely, and cost-efficient treatment.

Below, a quick cheat sheet to help you know where to go:

Urgent Care

A great option when your regular primary care physician isn’t available or you can’t wait for an appointment. For symptoms that need to be treated quickly, but are NOT life threatening. X-rays, lab work, and stitches can all be done here.

  • Colds, coughs, or the flu
  • Fever
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Back, muscle, or body aches
  • Ear infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Breathing problems
  • Skin conditions
  • Minor cuts and burns
  • Sprains
  • Possible broken bones

Emergency Room

Where you should head when injuries are life-threatening, or for severe illness. Here, you can receive immediate care, advanced medical treatment, or surgery.

  • Fracture with bone sticking out
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Seizure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Serious burns
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Possible drug overdose
  • Poisoning

Click here for a list of our AltaMed Urgent Care Centers.

Sign Up for COVID-19 Updates

Sign up to receive email updates on the information that matters to you and those you love.