Skip to main content

When Should I Go to the ER Instead of Urgent Care?

When Should I Go to the ER Instead of Urgent Care?

It’s Saturday morning, and the upper respiratory illness you’ve been nursing for the past week seems to be taking a turn for the worse. You vomited in the middle of the night, woke up with a high fever, and are feeling slightly out of breath. Should you head to our urgent care clinic, or would it be wiser to go to your local emergency room? 

As urgent care experts who evaluate and treat patients with acute illnesses and injuries every day of the week, our experienced team at American River Urgent Care understands that it can be hard to know when to choose the ER over urgent care. 

You need medical attention — soon

When it comes to accessing prompt medical care for acute health needs, you have several options. If your problem is pressing enough to call for timely care, but not necessarily pressing enough that it requires immediate care, you may consider:

If your problem is more worrisome, however, you may find yourself weighing the pros and cons between:

Always open, the ER is staffed and equipped to help patients with worrisome symptoms, traumatic injuries, and worsening illness. Open for extended hours every day of the week, an urgent care clinic is staffed and equipped to do the same — apart from one major difference. 

When you should head to the ER

The ER is the right place to go when you’re experiencing a serious medical emergency. With its hospital connection, advanced technology, and quick access to cardiovascular and trauma specialists, the ER is the best place to seek care for sudden, severe symptoms or any other life-threatening condition or limb-threatening injury. 

Symptoms and medical problems that are best treated in the ER include:

Never drive yourself to the ER when you’re experiencing shortness of breath, signs of a heart attack or stroke, or a life- or limb-threatening injury. Instead, call 911. Paramedics can begin administering outcome-changing care as soon as they get to you — and advise the ER team so they’re ready to take over as soon as you roll through the door.

When to choose an urgent care clinic

At American River Urgent Care, our team receives, evaluates, and treats non-emergency patients with pressing medical needs seven days a week.

With an on-site diagnostic lab complete with digital X-ray services, our urgent care clinic can handle a wide range of medical problems that need to be treated right away, but aren’t severe enough to be considered a life- or limb-threatening emergency. This includes:

Simply put, urgent care medicine helps bridge the gap between primary care medicine and emergency medicine, giving you direct access to immediate, non-emergency medical care when you need it.

What if you make the wrong choice?

When you have an urgent medical problem, trust your instincts: If you think you should seek emergency care, chances are you should.

If you arrive at the ER with a problem that could have been handled at an urgent care clinic, you may pay more and wait longer because the triage system puts patients with emergency needs first, but you’ll still get the care you need. 

And if you arrive at our urgent care clinic with a very serious medical emergency, our team will start administering care and call 911 to help you get to the ER as soon as possible.

If you have an urgent care need, give us a call at 916-238-5469 today, stop by our walk-in clinic at your convenience, or click online to book an appointment at American River Urgent Care, in Orangevale, California, any time. 

You Might Also Enjoy...

Myths and Facts About Fevers

A fever — or abnormally high temperature — is the body’s way of fighting off infection and illness. Here, we dispel a few of the most pervasive myths surrounding this healthy immune system response.
Home Remedies for a Nagging Sore Throat

Home Remedies for a Nagging Sore Throat

Most sore throats go away on their own and are nothing to worry about. For as reassuring as that may be, you still want relief when your throat is painfully swollen and red. Here are a few proven ways to soothe a nagging sore throat.
 Is It Too Late to Get My Seasonal Flu Shot?

Is It Too Late to Get My Seasonal Flu Shot?

You meant to get your seasonal flu vaccine back in September as recommended, but life got in the way. Now it’s February, and you’re wondering if it’s too late to get your flu shot. Luckily, it’s not — and here’s why you should still get one.
Can I Beat My Illness Without Antibiotics?

Can I Beat My Illness Without Antibiotics?

Antibiotics treat certain illnesses caused by bacterial infection. They can restore your health, prevent serious complications, and even safeguard your life. Find out when they’re necessary — and when they’re not. 

When to Seek Care for Your Cough

As one of the most common complaints during cold and flu season, a cough may resolve on its own in a relatively short amount of time — or it may linger and get worse. Here’s when to seek expert care for your cough.
How do Vaccinations Work?

How do Vaccinations Work?

Have you ever wondered how a vaccine protects you from disease-causing pathogens like bacteria and viruses? Here, we look in-depth at how vaccination boosts normal immune system function to keep you healthy.