Where to Go, Urgent Care or ER

Patient with Urgent Care Doctor

When you’re not feeling well, or have a sudden illness or injury, you may be confused about your best options for medical care. In those times, you might be wondering whether you should go to the Emergency Department, or Urgent Care, or wait to see your primary care physician.

Consider the following guidelines for accessing the appropriate level of medical care for your needs.

When to Call 911

There are times of medical emergency when it’s necessary to seek immediate medical help -- Consider calling 911 if you have severe bleeding or severe chest pains or if someone is choking.

When to call 911:

  • You feel like passing out
  • Having a hard time speaking or breathing
  • Heavy bleeding from your mouth, nose, vagina or bottom
  • If someone suddenly becomes very ill, stops breathing or turns blue
  • A broken bone, visible through an open wound
  • Allergic reaction, especially with difficulty breathing
  • Poisoning or drug overdose
  • Someone is threatening to hurt or kill themselves or someone else
  • Sudden intense, severe pain

Emergency Department

The Emergency Department is your option for any illness or injury considered serious or life-threatening. The LVMC Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

When to go to the Emergency Department:

  • Chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures
  • Serious burns
  • Head or eye injury
  • Broken bones or dislocated joints
  • Severe lacerations
  • Severe cold or flu symptoms
  • Concussion or confusion
  • Fever in an infant
  • Poisoning

Urgent Care

Urgent Care centers are a place to go when you have minor illnesses or injuries, particularly after regular business hours. Urgent Care is not the place to go with emergency medical needs, but for situations that need care within 24 hours. Urgent Care is available by calling Lompoc - Health North H Center at 805-737-8700.

  • Vomiting or persistent diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sprains and muscle or ligament strains
  • Small cuts that may need stitches
  • Fever without a rash
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Eye irritation or redness
  • Fever or flu
  • Urinary tract infections

Primary Care Provider

Your primary care physician helps manage any chronic conditions, manages your prescription medications and tracks your medical history.

When to go to Primary Care:

  • Annual physical exams
  • Management of prescription medications
  • Any illness that can wait 24 hours for an appointment
  • Health screenings or tests
  • Well-child visits
  • Immunizations
  • Referrals to specialists
About the Author

Author: Lompoc Valley Medical Center,

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