Emergency Room or Immediate Care: Do you know where to go?

By Kristy Bleizeffer Oct 20, 2015

Where should you go when you need fast medical attention? Always call 911 for chest pain, shortness of breath and suspected stroke.

When you or someone in your family needs quick medical attention, do you know the best place to get care?  It’s not always the emergency room.

“Studies show that half of all emergency room visits are not for true emergencies,” said Dr. Andy Dunn, medical director and family physician at Mesa Primary and Immediate Care. 

“The less of an emergency you have, the longer you may have to wait because doctors and nurses are busy treating patients in life-or-death situations.”

Immediate and urgent care centers are walk-in clinics designed to treat minor injuries and illness when you can’t wait to get to the doctor. You don’t need an appointment and many times can get treated faster and at a lower cost than in the ER.

What’s the difference?

“An ER and urgent care offer some of the same types of services, such as X-rays and blood tests. But they differ in important ways,” Dunn said. For example, an emergency room is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and treats patients with life-threatening conditions. An immediate care center has limited hours and is designed to treat minor medical problems.

In cases of suspected heart attack or stroke, always call 911. Do not try to drive yourself to the hospital. For other emergencies, if you are not sure which level of treatment is appropriate, go to the ER or call 911.

Go to THe emergency room for:

  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Sudden, severe pain of the head or stomach
  • Head or back injuries
  • Bleeding or vomiting that won’t stop
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Poisoning
  • Major burns and cuts
  • Choking
  • Sudden slurred speech
  • Seizures

Go to Immediate Care for:

  • Minor sprains or broken bones
  • Sore throats
  • Fevers
  • Sinus or ear infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • X-rays
  • Casting
  • DOT physicals
  • Drug testing

Andy Dunn M.D.

Dr. Dunn is board certified in family medicine and is medical director of Mesa Primary Care, Sage Primary Care and Immediate Care. 

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