Should I Go to the Emergency Room or to Urgent Care?

What if you get sick or injured and your doctor's office is closed? Understanding your options now can save you time later when you might need immediate care.

When to use urgent care

Urgent care centers are usually open after normal business hours, including evenings and weekends. They’re a good option if you can’t get in to see your regular doctor and you have moderate, but not severe, symptoms. 

In most cases, you'll find that you save time and money by going to an urgent care center over an ER. Many urgent care centers even offer onsite diagnostic tests for a more complete check-up.

When to seek ER care

ERs are the best place for treating severe and life-threatening conditions. They’re open 24 hours, seven days a week. They have the widest range of services for emergency and after-hours care, including diagnostic tests and access to specialists. 

That specialized care also makes them more expensive. And you may have to wait a long time to get treated. When considering the ER, use your best judgment.

Be prepared and know your care choices

Here’s what you can do to stay one step ahead:

  • Use our Find a Doctor tool now to choose a primary care physician or locate your nearest urgent care center.  
  • Learn about all your care choices, including care that can be done over your phone or computer. Visit our Find Care page for more information.
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