Primary Care vs PrimeCare Urgent Care vs ER vs 911

How do you decide between calling the ambulance (911), being driven to the ER, going to the Urgent care or waiting for your primary care doctor.  When you’re sick or injured, deciding where to go at that time is the last thing you want to worry about.  Understanding your options now will make those decisions easier when you need immediate care. 

To start - Your primary care doctor is the best place to start if you are sick. They know your health history, medication and allergies. They also know if this problem is recurrent and what has been done in the past.  They may want to refer you to a specialist if these problems continue to occur as well.  If however, you get sick or injured when your doctor's office is closed or the office is booked and they can not take care of you that day then you have to choose where to go.  You will save time and money by going to the urgent care instead of an emergency room for non-life threatening problems.  Urgent care is not a substitute for the emergency department.  In general, an emergency condition is one that can permanently impair or endanger your life.

For any Medical Problem that are Life-Threatening –Dial 911 immediately 

The ambulance will be able to start your care immediately and take you to the closest emergency department.  Remember, ER visits should be reserved for true emergencies.  ER’s are open 24 hours, seven days a week. They have the widest range of services for emergency care, including special diagnostic tests and access to specialists. That specialized care also makes it the most expensive type of care. And you'll probably have to wait a long time to get treated if your problem is not life threatening.

Examples of conditions that require emergency medical care include:

(Signs of) Heart attack or Stroke - 911

Severe difficulty breathing - 911

Compound fracture (bone protrudes through skin), unable to walk - 911

Convulsions, seizures or loss of consciousness - 911

Serious head, neck or back injury - 911

Suicidal or homicidal feelings

Fever in newborn (less than 3 months old)

Heavy, uncontrollable bleeding from any where

Deep knife wounds or any gunshot wounds

Moderate to severe burns especially if they encircle and area

Poisoning, Overdoses, Toxic ingestions

Any Pregnancy-related problems if you can not see your Obstetrician

Severe abdominal pain

Motor Vehicular injuries


What is considered an Urgent Medical Condition?

Urgent medical conditions are ones that are not considered emergencies but still require care within 24 hours. Some examples of such conditions include, and can be treated at PrimeCare Urgent Care Center:

Sprains, strains and fractures – not open fractures

Moderate neck or back problems – pulled muscles

Mild to Moderate respiratory problems – Asthma, COPD, Pneumonia, Bronchitis

Bleeding, Abrasions and lacerations - not pumping but requiring stitches

Diagnostic services, including X-rays and laboratory tests

Eye irritation, conjunctivitis, foreign body – not sudden loss of vision

Fever, colds, flu – work/school notes

Vomiting, diarrhea for a day thus not dehydrated

Severe sore throat or cough

Skin rashes and infections

Urinary tract infections

Also best at the Urgent Care centers and not covered at most primary doctors’ offices

School physicals

Work Physicals

Sports Physicals

DOT exams

Surgical Clearance – if you’re primary is not in the area