Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health.  Explore Lahey locations below or reach Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Beverly Hospital and Winchester Hospital.

How to Decide Between Going to the ER or Urgent Care

If you need medical attention quickly, you may be unsure where to go—to an urgent care facility or an emergency room. That’s why we’ve developed the following guidelines to help.

When to Go to the Emergency Room

You may be experiencing a medical emergency and should call 911 or go immediately to an emergency room if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Arm weakness
  • Bleeding that won’t stop
  • Blood in your stool
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Face drooping and difficulty speaking
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Multiple injuries
  • Pregnancy-related bleeding or cramping
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe burns
  • Severe or unusual headache
  • Slurred speech

When to Go to Urgent Care

Urgent care is a good option if you need medical attention when your primary care doctor isn’t available, such as after office hours, on weekends or holidays.

Conditions that can be diagnosed and treated at urgent care facilities include:

  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Ear infections
  • Fever
  • Flu
  • Minor burns
  • Respiratory infections
  • Sports injuries
  • STD and pregnancy testing
  • Workplace injuries

If your illness is not life-threatening, an urgent care facility gives you an alternative for care that can save you both time and money.