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Urgent Care or ER? How to Decide

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This list of symptoms will help you determine when it's best to go to urgent care or the ER

Posted by Temple ReadyCare

When you're sick or injured, you may need immediate medical attention. If you can’t get an appointment with your doctor right away, you may be wondering what to do. Should you go to urgent care, or is it best to head to the emergency room (ER)?

The ER should be your first choice if an injury or illness appears severe or life-threatening. And if your condition isn't an emergency but you can't wait until the next day, that's when you should visit an urgent care center.

Here’s a guide to help you determine whether to go to an urgent care center such as Temple ReadyCare, or the nearest ER when you need immediate medical attention:

When to go to urgent care

With convenient hours and walk-in services, Temple ReadyCare provides medical care for minor or non-life-threatening conditions, including:

  • Cold or flu
  • Fever, cough or sore throat
  • Headache or migraine
  • Ear infections
  • Minor allergic reactions, asthma attacks or rashes
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Cuts or wounds requiring stitches
  • Minor burns or eye irritation
  • Minor orthopaedic injuries

When to go to the nearest emergency room

ER doctors provide medical care for major or life-threatening conditions, including:

  • Possible heart attack (pain, pressure or tightness in chest, arm, jaw, neck or back)
  • Possible stroke (numbness on one side of face, arm or leg; difficulty speaking; confusion)
  • High fever with stiff neck, mental confusion or difficulty breathing
  • Severe shortness of breath or abdominal pain
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Wounds that won’t stop bleeding
  • Severe burns
  • Poisoning or overdose of alcohol or drugs
  • Orthopedic injuries causing severe pain
  • Head injuries
  • Severe vomiting, diarrhea or dehydration
  • Severe symptoms of COVID-19, such as trouble breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, difficulty staying awake, bluish lips and/or new confusion

Call 911 if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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