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Your Emergency Care Guide

Urgent Care vs. ER

When an emergency strikes, will you know where to go for care? Download this checklist to use as a guide for common situations. Below, learn the difference between primary care, urgent care and the emergency room, so you can get the right care at the right time.

A good rule of thumb: "If you fear the situation is life-threatening or severe enough to cause permanent damage, go to the emergency room," says Susan Terry, MD, an internal medicine physician at University of Utah Health. "If not, try to get in with your primary care physician. Doctors keep some appointments open in case of emergency," she says. If it's after hours or you can't get an appointment, head to urgent care.

Here are some pros and cons for using primary care, urgent care and the emergency room.

Primary Care

Pros: Lowest co-pay, continuity in care (same doctor, familiar with your medical background).
Cons: May not be available on short notice or after hours.

Urgent Care

Pros: Lower copay than the emergency room, no appointment necessary, extended hours.
Cons: Higher co-pay than a primary care visit.

Emergency Room

Pros: Open 24/7, handles serious injuries, specialists available, no appointment necessary
Cons: Highest co-pay

Nine University of Utah Health Urgent Care Locations Now Open

See all of Univeristy of Utah Health's urgent care locations.