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Should I go to urgent care or the emergency room?

Urgent vs. emergent: Do I need an urgent care or the emergency room?

How do you know when you should go to an urgent care facility or the emergency room?

It's important to keep our emergency departments open for true emergencies. At Poudre Valley Hospital, about 30 percent of the people who come to the emergency room should have gone to urgent care instead.

In this video, Dr. Darren Tremblay discusses whether you should visit an urgent care or the emergency room.

Call 911 immediately if someone is unconscious, having trouble breathing, has suffered a serious injury, or may be having a heart attack.

Here's a guide to help you decide which facility is the best option to treat you.

Urgent care: Minor injuries and illnesses

Emergency room: Severe injuries and illnesses

In general:

If the illness or injury is something you'd normally see your family doctor for but you can't get an appointment right away or it's after hours, urgent care is the right choice. Bring your insurance card and a photo ID. (Convenient urgent care locations.)


In general:

If the illness or injury seems more critical than something you'd see your family doctor for, or if you need care during the middle of the night, go to the nearest emergency room (maps to Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies).


Sprains, strains or possible broken bones Complex fractures or bones protruding through the skin
Headache Head injuries, or a sudden, very severe headache or loss of vision (could be the sign of a stroke)
Sore throats, coughs, ear infections, fever, flu symptoms Chest pain or other heart attack symptoms-call 911
Minor burns, lacerations requiring a few stitches, animal bites Serious lacerations, severe bleeding, poisoning
Worker's compensation injuries Intoxication, overdose or attempted suicide-the Crisis Assessment Center at PVH is the starting point for these issues.

This is a guide and is not intended as a tool to diagnose injuries or illnesses. When in doubt, call 911.

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