Q: I have two active boys who have had multiple visits to the emergency room and urgent care on weekends when their regular doctor isn’t available. Sometimes I’m not sure if it is a big enough reason to go to ER or if I should just take them to urgent care. How do I choose between the two?

A: In the event of medical emergency, it may be hard to know where exactly to go for care. Do you head to the closest emergency department or is it something that can be seen at an urgent care office? The answer is not always simple, but knowing the difference between emergency and urgent care and where to seek treatment could save your life.

“The emergency department is designed to provide fast, lifesaving care in the event of a medical emergency,” says Heather Hamilton, MD, medical director at John C. Lincoln’s Sonoran Health and Emergency Center. “A medical emergency is a condition that could cause death or permanent injury if not treated quickly. As a patient, it’s sometimes difficult to tell if your condition is a true emergency. When in doubt, it’s best to choose the closest emergency department.”

“When you are sick or injured, going to an urgent care can save you money on your co-pays,” says Mufid Khoury, MD, Scottsdale Healthcare Urgent Care Plus medical director. “You can also seek the help of your primary care physician to determine whether your condition requires an emergency room visit versus urgent care.”


Medical emergencies include:
Broken bones or dislocated joints • Chest pain associated with dizziness, nausea, 
sweating, shortness of breath or pain radiating to the neck, jaw or arm • A deep wound 
that will not stop bleeding • Newborns with high fever • Poisoning or suspected drug overdose • Serious burns or cuts • Severe headache • Stroke symptoms, including 
dizziness, weakness on one side, speech difficulties or sudden onset of paralysis 
• Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
Urgent Care Emergencies include:
Cold and flu • Sore throat • Loss of balance or fainting • Minor breaks or sprains • Neck injury • Persistent shortness of breath • Sinus infections • Urinary tract infections


Scottsdale Healthcare Urgent Care Plus has an expanded network of locations through our affiliation with John C. Lincoln Health Network. John C. Lincoln has 4 additional immediate care sites offering extended evening and weekend availability. Please visit this website for more information on hours of operation, directions and insurance plans accepted. JCL.com/minoremergencies




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