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The Differences Between an Emergency Room & Urgent Care

When You Should Go to the ER Versus Urgent Care

It can be difficult to know when to seek care at an urgent care facility or when to go to the nearest emergency room. When experiencing severe pain or feeling ill, you may not be able to assess whether you have a true emergency.

Emergency Departments Are Best Suited for Life-Threatening Conditions

If you have any of the following symptoms, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest medical center emergency room:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sudden blurred vision, dizziness, weakness or loss of coordination/balance
  • Numbness in the arm, leg or face
  • Severe abdominal pain or headache
  • Bleeding that will not stop
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Severe burns or life-threatening injury
  • Seizures

Salinas Valley Health Medical Center's Emergency Department is open 24 hours every day. No appointments are necessary, although the most critically ill patients are always treated first.

Check In From Home!

InQuicker is our online waiting service that enables individuals with non-life-threatening medical conditions to check in for projected treatment times prior to being seen by a healthcare professional at a medical facility. Learn more here.

Urgent care deals with moderate or serious non-life-threatening situations, including:

  • Cuts
  • Broken bones
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Illness or other non-life-threatening conditions

Urgent Care facilities, such as Doctors on Duty, are typically open every day, including weekends and holidays, and have early morning and evening hours. Appointments are not needed and patients are usually seen in the order in which they arrive. Urgent care is generally covered by most insurance programs.

In an Urgent Care facility, board-certified physicians, registered nurses and other medical professionals – who are skilled in emergency medicine – provide care for patients. They examine each patient, and if true emergency care is required, the patient can then be referred or transferred directly to the nearest Emergency Room.

For less serious health concerns, visit one of our affiliated Doctors on Duty or Urgent Care centers. Locations are listed here.

A doctor’s office provides ongoing care for:

  • Illness
  • Follow-up to emergency treatment
  • Chronic conditions
  • Health checkups
  • Immunizations