Banner Health Services  

Emergency department or Urgent Care?


Ashley Bergeron, RN ,and D. DeTemple, MD, RN  Banner Baywood Medical Center

Question: What are some key points to consider when deciding whether to use the Emergency Department or an area Urgent Care facility?

Answer: When deciding whether to visit the Emergency department or an Urgent Care facility, you should first call your family doctor for advice on your present symptoms or condition. If you don't have a family doctor, then try to evaluate your symptoms and decide which facility would be best for your complaint.
Urgent Care facilities are equipped to handle minor trauma such as sprained ankles, minor lacerations, sore throat, runny nose, cough and congestion. Most urgent cares have X-ray capability, but not all. Urgent Cares are not able to care for most critical situations. 
Emergency departments are set up to care for critical patients. Some of these patient situations may include but are not limited to, chest pain, abdominal pain, severe shortness of breath and respiratory problems, prolonged headaches, deformity of a limb, or a change in mental status.
It is important to remember that regardless of your complaint or medical need, you can always go to the Emergency department to be seen and evaluated by an emergency physician. However, please keep in mind that the time it will take to be seen in the Emergency department is based on the severity of your condition, not the time you arrive.
If you don't have a family doctor, and you need assistance deciding whether to go to the Emergency department, or an Urgent Care facility, Banner Health has set up a nurse contact line for your convenience, just call (602) 230-CARE.

Page Last Modified: 02/22/2010
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