Emergencies Are Life-Threatening Situations

It’s important to seek emergency care if you need it. A serious injury may be the cause. Or you may have chest pain or another sudden, severe pain that doesn’t go away.  You should go to the emergency room (ER) when you need help right away. Some hospitals call the ER the emergency department (ED). These are just different names for the same service.

However, some people go to the ER when they don’t need to. At the ER, people get treatment based on how severe their problem is. If you go to the ER with a minor problem, you could end up waiting for hours. Also, in the waiting room, you risk infections from other people who are sick.  

If you are sick or have an injury that doesn’t need immediate care, there are better places to go. The best idea, of course, is to see your own family provider. But if your provider’s office isn’t open, urgent care is a good option.  Urgent care centers often open early and stay open late at night and on weekends. If you’re unsure, you can call 1-855-221-5656, (TTY: 711), and select the option for Nurse Line. The nurse can help you decide if you need to go to the emergency room or urgent care.

The following examples can help you make this choice.

You need to go to an emergency room or call 911 when you have:

  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe bleeding or severe head injuries
  • Loss of consciousness or “black-out”
  • Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision
  • Fever of 100.4 (rectal reading) in an infant less than 3 months old (Source Mayo Clinic)

You need to 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 (non-life-threatening)
  • Fever or flu-like symptoms
  • Rash or other skin irritations
  • Mild asthma
  • Animal bites
  • Broken bones