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Is it an emergency?

By AJ Murphy

When should I go to the emergency room (ER)?

It’s important to seek emergency care when you need it. That’s why we cover all your emergency services. Sometimes, you need emergency care after a bad accident. Or you might have a severe pain that won’t go away. When you need emergency care, you should go to the ER right away. Some hospitals call the ER the emergency department (ED). They both provide the same services.

Find urgent care

Going to the ER when it is not an emergency could result in long waiting hours. You have options. There are better places to go when you’re sick and don’t need emergency care. The best place to go is your primary care physician (PCP). Urgent care is also a great choice if you can’t see your PCP. Urgent care centers usually open early and stay open late on nights and weekends.

How do I tell if I need emergency or urgent care?

You need to go to an emergency room when you have:

  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe bleeding or severe head injuries
  • Loss of consciousness or a “blackout”
  • Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision
  • Fever of 100.4 F (rectal reading) in an infant less than 3 months old

You can go to an urgent care center when you have:

  • Minor burns or injuries
  • Sprains and strains
  • Coughs, colds and sore throats
  • Ear infections
  • Allergic reactions (not life-threatening)
  • Fever or flu-like symptoms
  • Rash or other skin irritations
  • Mild asthma
  • Animal bites
  • Broken bones
  • A large cut that needs stitches

About the author

AJ Murphy is an evocative young writer who grew up in Boston's Charlestown neighborhood. AJ began his writing career at Alaska Ice Rinks Inc. in Anchorage, AK, where he also drove a Zamboni and took care of outdoor hockey rinks.

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