When should I choose my primary care doctor (PCP), urgent care or ER (emergency room)?
If you need care right away, use this guide to help decide where to go.
Primary Care Physician (PCP)
If it's not an emergency, your primary care doctor should be your first choice when seeking care. Your PCP can treat common illnesses (cold, flu, sore throat, etc.) and minor injuries and conduct routine exams, vaccinations and screenings.
• Your doctor knows you and your health history, including what medications you are taking and what chronic conditions might need to be considered in your treatment.
• Your co-pay for a visit to your doctor’s office will cost far less than urgent care or emergency room (ER). This option can also help you avoid the long wait times typically found in an emergency room.
• Even if your doctor is unavailable or not an expert in the area of care you need, they can refer you to a specialist or a specialist.
Urgent Care Center (UCC)
Urgent care centers are less expensive than ERs and often have shorter wait times. Many times, an urgent care center can also provide any necessary labs or X-rays as part of your treatment. Visit an urgent care center for conditions like:
• Cold and flu-like symptoms
• Sinus infection
• Urinary tract infection
• Upper respiratory infections
• Low back pain, strains, sprains and/or breaks
• Mild burns
To find an in-network urgent care center (UCC) near you, click here.
Emergency Room (ER)
In a life-threatening emergency, always call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room (ER). Examples of symptoms that require ER care include:
• Severe chest pain (a possible heart attack)
• Signs of a possible stroke
• Severe or sudden shortness of breath
• Sudden or unexplained loss of consciousness