When it comes to deciding whether visiting a UCHealth emergency room or urgent care facility, it’s important to make the right choice—for your own health, and to keep our emergency rooms open for true emergencies.

Approximately 30 percent of patients who come to the emergency room should have gone to an urgent care facility instead.

Emergency room or Urgent care guidelines

Use the guidelines below to help you decide which facility is the best place to treat you. Always call 911 immediately if someone is unconscious, having trouble breathing, has a serious injury or may be having a heart attack.


Emergency room for severe injuries & illnessesLearn when to visit an emergency room or urgent care | UCHealth

If the illness or injury seems more critical than something you’d see your family doctor for, or if you need care in the middle of the night, go to the nearest emergency room.

  • Chest pain or other heart attack symptoms – call 911 immediately
  • Complex fractures or bones protruding through the skin
  • Head injuries or a sudden, very severe headache or loss of vision (could be the sign of a stroke)
  • Intoxication, overdose, or attempted suicide
  • Serious lacerations, severe bleeding, poisoning

Urgent care for minor injuries and illnesses

If the illness or injury is something you’d normally see your family doctor for but you can’t get an appointment right away or it’s after hours, urgent care is the right choice.

  • Animal bites
  • Headache
  • Lacerations
  • Minor burns
  • Sprains, strains or possible broken bones
  • Sore throats, coughs, ear infections, fever, flu symptoms
  • Worker’s compensation injuries
Find Urgent Care Locations


Find Emergency Room Locations

*Remember to bring your insurance card and a photo ID.

This is a guide and is not intended as a tool to diagnose injuries or illnesses. When in doubt, call 911.