Urgent Care or Emergency Room?

Author: Liz Kovac

"I need urgent medical attention - where do I go?"

The emergency room (ER) is where you go to be treated for life-threatening conditions. An urgent care center is where you go to be treated for non-life-threatening conditions that require care within 24 hours. Urgent care centers provide easy access to healthcare for the times when your primary care physician's offices are closed.

What is considered a medical emergency?

"A medical emergency is a condition that has the potential to permanently impair or endanger your life," said Dr. James Sutton, Emergency Room Medical Director of McLaren Lapeer Region. These conditions include:

  • Serious head, neck, or back injury
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • Heart attack symptoms, such as chest pain that lasts longer than two minutes
  • Stroke symptoms, such as vision loss, sudden numbness, weakness, slurred speech, or confusion
  • Compound fracture, which involves a bone protruding through the skin
  • Convulsions, seizures, or loss of consciousness
  • Deep knife would or gunshot wounds
  • Fever in a newborn less than three months old
  • Heavy, uncontrollable bleeding
  • Moderate to severe burns
  • Poisoning

What is considered an urgent medical condition?

An urgent medical condition is non-life-threatening but requires care within 24 hours. these can include:

  • Accidents and falls
  • Cuts that don't involve much blood but might need stitches
  • Breathing difficulties, such as mild to moderate asthma
  • Diagnostic services, including X-rays and laboratory tests
  • Eye irritation and redness
  • Fever or flu
  • Minor broken bones and fractures in fingers or toes
  • Moderate back problems
  • Severe sore throat or cough
  • Skin rashes and infections
  • Sprains and strains
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or dehydration

Get the Care You Need

For an urgent medical condition, visit our Occupational Health and Convenient Care Center at 1181 S. Lapeer Road.

For a medical emergency, head to the ER or check-in to the ER from home by visiting mclaren.org/LapeerER.