Do You Need Urgent Care?

Do you need urgent care or emergency care?

You're sick or hurt, and you need medical attention. But how do you know whether you should head to the hospital's emergency department (ED) or an urgent care center?

Go to urgent care for: Non-life-threatening conditions

  • Cold/flu.
  • Eye and ear conditions.
  • Cuts.
  • Sprains.
  • Respiratory illness.
  • Sinusitis.
  • Urinary tract infections.
  • Other common illness and injuries.

Go to an ED for: Life-threatening conditions

  • Chest pain and heart attack.
  • Uncontrolled vomiting.
  • Serious burns.
  • Severe pain.
  • Altered mental status or confusion.
  • Stroke.
  • Major injury or trauma.
  • Broken bones.
  • Seizures.
  • Head injuries.

Urgent care can also provide:

  • Imaging and lab tests (if ordered by the clinic provider).
  • Immunizations.
  • Occupational medicine.
  • Camp, school and sport physicals.

ED visits that could be handled by urgent care:


National average cost per visit:1

  Urgent care ED
Urinary tract infection $112 $655
Acute sinusitis $125 $775
Middle ear infection $109 $655

Both urgent care centers and EDs accept most major insurance plans, but your copay might be lower at urgent care.

Number of ED visits annually:2

136 Million

1. CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention