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ED, Urgent Care and Primary Care: What's the Difference?

Liam scored his first goal … and then promptly rolled his ankle. It’s swollen, it’s black and blue, it’s painful. Where should you take him?

Well, it depends on the type of injury and how bad it is.

Infographic with stick figure icon and words that say Emergency Care

Should I go to the emergency department?

Treats severe and life-threatening conditions, including:

  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Bone fractures, severe cuts or wounds, burns
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
  • Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness
  • Changes in vision, difficulty speaking
  • Confusion, suicidal feelings, changes in mental status
  • Any sudden or severe pain, abdominal pain
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Suspected poisoning
  • Pregnancy-related complications

Infographic with stick figure icon and words that say Urgent Care

Should I go to urgent care?

Diagnoses and treats conditions that are not life-threatening yet need to be addressed promptly, including:

  • Cold and cough, sore throat
  • Allergies, sinus infections
  • Minor eye infections
  • Urinary tract infections, STD testing
  • Earaches
  • Fever, flu-like symptoms
  • Minor back pain
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Insect bites, rashes, minor abscesses
  • Minor burns
  • Minor cuts/lacerations, wound care
  • Minor breaks, sprains and strains
  • Abrasions, removal of superficial foreign bodies

Urgent care also offers the following:

  • On-site X-rays
  • Select labs
  • Drug screens
  • Select immunizations
  • Sports physicals

Infographic with stick figure icon and words that say Primary Care

Should I go to my primary care physician?

As part of an ongoing medical relationship, helps manage your overall health, such as:

  • Preventive, wellness and illness care
  • Management of chronic disease and conditions
  • Annual health screening examinations
  • Comprehensive physical examinations for all ages
  • School and sports physicals
  • Care for newborns, infants and adolescents
  • Male and female exams
  • Anxiety, depression and mood disorders
  • Sick visits and immunizations

Find an urgent care facility near you, or schedule an appointment with your primary care physician today.


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