Illness or injury can affect you or a loved one without warning. Your first reaction may be concern, but also confusion — “What is this, and what should I do about it?” Whether it’s a sore throat or a sprained ankle, when your health suffers a blow, you want to feel better quickly. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a resource that can help speed up your decision–making?
Here are some basic guidelines to help you decide whether you should visit your primary care provider (PCP), an urgent care clinic or the emergency room (ER).
Questions? Take the guesswork out of healthcare by visiting our new health access page — a single source to help you manage your care. Consult a nurse, schedule a virtual care visit, find an urgent care clinic near you, and much more.
Primary care provider (PCP)
Your PCP is the point person who guides your health and well–being, by conducting annual wellness visits and physicals, managing chronic health problems and treating non–emergent conditions.
Visit your PCP for non–life threatening health needs, like:
- Routine vaccinations
- Preventative services like immunizations and health screenings
- Common colds and respiratory illnesses
- Ongoing management of chronic conditions like high cholesterol and high blood pressure
- Annual health screenings like gynecological exams
Scheduling a virtual visit with your provider can be a convenient way to quickly receive treatment from the comfort of your home.
Here are a few conditions that can be diagnosed with a virtual visit:
- COVID–19 symptom evaluation
- Seasonal asthma / allergy management
- Minor respiratory conditions like bronchitis
- Pink eye
In many cases, providers can treat you through a virtual visit or refer you to a specialist if necessary.
Your local urgent care clinic may be able to treat you quickly for a wide range of non–life threatening conditions, oftentimes without an appointment, in the evenings and on weekends.
Visit an urgent care for conditions and health needs, like:
- COVID–19 testing
- Fevers, sore throat, dehydration
- Non–life threatening infections like flu, strep throat and urinary tract infections
- Sprains, strains, cuts and scrapes that may need stitches
- Bug bites, stings, poison ivy
- X–rays and labs
The emergency room (ER)
Visit the ER for serious and life–threatening conditions, like:
- Suspected heart attack or stroke
- Broken bones, severe burns, deep wounds
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- High fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration
- Suspected poisoning
Always call 9–1–1 if you are experiencing signs that may indicate a serious or life–threatening emergency.