When should I go to the emergency room (ER), urgent care, or doctor’s office?

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March 11, 2024

When you are not feeling well, it’s hard to know when to call your provider or when you need to go to Urgent Care or the Emergency Room. Here are some quick tips for making that decision. If you need extra help, we’re here for you! Learn in the video below more about when to go to the Emergency room.


Your provider is your best option for all non-emergencies! 

If you can wait a couple of days to see your provider about your problem, your provider is the person to see. They have your health history, know what medications you are on, and know what chronic conditions they need to consider when treating you. They can help you understand what’s happening, help you feel better, or refer you to a specialist.

Make sure to go to your provider for regular checkups throughout the year to keep your chronic condition managed and catch any problems that may be starting early. If you do not have a primary care provider or want to change your current one, you can call us or your plan’s Member Services line to get help! To reach us, try self enrolling, calling us at (410) 348-1905 or sending us an email.

Urgent care clinics are an option if you cannot get into your provider’s office. 

Sometimes, you need care when your provider’s office is closed or fully booked. If you have a non-emergency illness but cannot get in with your provider soon enough, you can try an urgent care clinic. They can test for things like flu and strep, treat ear infections, and some have the ability to do things like x-rays. 

Save the emergency room for emergencies! 

The Emergency Room or Emergency Facilities have the staff and supplies to deal with severe illnesses and injuries. They are expensive to use and should only be used when needed. Some examples of things you want to head to the Emergency Room for include chest pains, difficulty breathing, weakness or numbness in one side, slurred speech, change in mental state, severe burns, head or eye injury, broken bones or dislocated joints, seizures, or severe cuts that may need stitches. 

Still not sure? 

Many insurance plans have a 24-hour nurse line. These nurses are trained to ask some questions and help you figure out where to go. Use this nurse line if you need help! For CareFirst: 800-535-9700. The video below goes into more detail about the differences with urgent care clinics, your providers office and the ER!


The content on this site is not and should not be considered medical advice or a substitute for individual medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always talk to your health care provider(s) for diagnosis and treatment, including information regarding which drugs, therapy, or other treatment may be appropriate for you. Learn more here.

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