Know where to go

How to choose between the doctor’s office, urgent care and the ER.

When you’re feeling sick or are injured, there are several key places you can go for medical care: your doctor’s office, an urgent care center or the emergency room. Here’s a quick guide to help you know where to go based on your symptoms.

Doctor’s office

Your primary care physician (also called your PCP) should be your first call in all non-emergency situations. Your doctor knows you and your health history, including what medications you may be taking and any chronic conditions that may need to be considered in your treatment.

Urgent care

If your doctor is unavailable or you need care outside of their office hours, urgent care is a good option for treating a wide variety of illness and injuries. Common reasons to visit an urgent center include:

  • Sprains or strains of your arms or legs
  • Headaches that are not typical for you
  • Sore throat, cough, flu or low-grade fevers
  • Minor burns
  • Broken bones where you don’t see an obvious deformity
  • Cuts that may need a few stitches
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Most low back pain

Make sure that you visit an urgent care that’s within your plan network. Otherwise you may end up having to pay higher costs when accessing care.

Member tip

If your plan medical group is Sharp Rees-Stealy, you can check urgent care wait times online.

Emergency room

If you feel like you are experiencing a medical emergency (something that could be life threatening or cause serious damage if not handled immediately), please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away. The ER is equipped and staffed to handle complex and critical care needs. They are not the place for routine care or minor ailments. One of the above options will save you time and money, and clear the way for patients in need of emergency medical treatment. Common reasons to visit an ER include:

  • Traumatic injuries from a vehicle accident or fall
  • Sudden or severe headaches
  • Chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • Significant head injury
  • Complex fracture with a bone protruding through the skin
  • Suspected heart attack or stroke
  • Poisonings; drug or alcohol issues
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Seizures

Member tip

Sharp HealthCare ERs now offer online reservations for those who want to be seen in a timely manner, and who do not have life- or limb-threatening signs or symptoms.

Don’t forget about these other ways to access care

  • Sharp Nurse Connection® — our free after-hours nurse advice line — is a great member resource. You can call them at 1-800-359-2002 with questions, and get advice on when and where to go to access care based on your symptoms.

IMPORTANT NOTE: During the COVID-19 outbreak, Sharp Nurse Connection may direct you to your primary care physician's office for any medical questions or concerns. This is to ensure the quickest and best care possible when they’re experiencing high call volumes.

  • MinuteClinic®: Inside select CVS pharmacy store locations nationwide, MinuteClinic is good for treating minor illness or injury. Most services will require you to pay the amount equal to your copayment for an office visit to your primary care physician.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Video visits with MinuteClinic are not a covered benefit. Please contact your doctor to schedule a video or phone visit.

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