Should I go to the Family Doctor or ER?

Emergencies can happen at any time, and when you or a family member get sick or hurt, it’s important to be prepared. Depending on the severity of the medical issue, pausing for a moment and thinking about not just the closest place to get care, but the most appropriate place to get it, can make a big difference.

So, how do you know when to use your primary care physician compared or an emergency room? First, let’s explain what the difference is between these options.

What is a primary care provider (PCP)? 
A PCP is a medical provider you select to be your general source for addressing your regular health care needs. Your PCP knows your history and can typically coordinate your in-depth health care services with specialists if or when you need one.  Your PCP is the first one you should contact when you need care. PCPs often leave time in their schedule for sick visits and may be able to see you the same day for minor illnesses or injuries.

Should you experience a situation in which you are questioning whether or not to go to the ER, the listing below can help you make an informed decision; however, please keep in mind that if you experience any symptoms you believe to be an emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

Urgent care is not emergency care – Know the difference. In case of an emergency, or if you are unsure if you can drive to the nearest emergency room, you should call 9-1-1.

A visit to the closest emergency facility is recommended
if you experience:
A visit to your primary care physician is recommended
if you experience*: 
• Chest pain
• Confusion
• Broken bone
• Fainting
• High fever
• Ingestion of obstructive object
• Major head injury
• Palpitations
• Pneumonia
• Seizures
• Severe abdominal pain
• Severe asthma attack
• Severe burns
• Severe headache
• Shock
• Shortness of breath
• Unconsciousness
• Uncontrollable bleeding
• Allergic reaction
• Asthma attack (minor)
• Bronchitis
• Colds, cough, flu, fever
• Dehydration
• Dizziness
• Ear infection
• Insect bite
• Migraine
• Minor burns
• Minor cuts/lacerations
• Minor head injury
• Nausea
• Pink eye
• Rash
• Sore throat
• Sprain or strain
• Urinary tract infection

*Some of the above symptoms can be more severe in pediatric cases, please contact your child’s PCP with any concerns.