ER vs. Urgent Care Clinic

Aside from your symptoms, there are other things to keep in mind when deciding between the ER and Urgent Care. For medical advice before visiting the ER or an urgent care clinic, you can call your doctor or IEHP 24-Hour Nurse Advice Line at 1-888-244-IEHP (4347), TTY 711.


Note that ERs are open 24 hours a day and many urgent care clinics close in the late evening.

When should I go to the ER?

An emergency is when a person could die or be permanently hurt. The ER provides care for critical or life-threatening conditions.


Visit your closest ER or call 911 if you experience:

  • Changes in mental status, such as confusion
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness or changes in vision
  • Sudden or severe pain

Visit our Provider Search for list of emergency room locations near you.

When should I go to an Urgent Care?

Go to an urgent care clinic when you need care after hours for non-life-threatening conditions. 


Here are some examples of conditions:

  • A common illness like the flu
  • Minor fever or headache
  • Painful sore throat
  • Earache or sinus pain
  • Minor injuries like a sprained ankle
  • Back pain
  • Cuts or small wounds
  • Small burns
  • Rash or minor allergic reactions
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Urinary tract infections

There are more than 90 clinics in our IEHP network. Many are open late and on weekends. Visit our Provider Search or call the IEHP 24-Hour Nurse Advice Line at 1-888-244-IEHP (4347), TTY 711.