Making a Care Plan:

Emergency Room or Urgent Care?

Emergency Room or Urgent Care Illustration

California’s MemorialCare Health System has both ER and Urgent Care facilities, so we tapped the expertise of Dr. Bobby Massoudian, an emergency room physician, to help you learn how these two important facilities differ. This quiz will help you be informed about which option is right for your health care needs or the needs of a loved one.

Take our short quiz about five different patient scenarios to discover your patient preparedness score!

This quiz is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care.

Walking to meet a friend in the park one afternoon, Nicole suddenly experiences trouble breathing. She leans on a lamp post to stabilize herself and braces as she feels faint.

Should Nicole call 911 to be taken to the nearest emergency room, or have her friend bring her to an urgent care facility?

Drag and drop Nicole to her proper care destination.

Nicole, a woman wearing a yellow top, coral pants, and glasses is leaning on a lamp post to stabilize herself while clutching her chest.
Nicole, a woman wearing a yellow top, coral pants, and glasses

After eating lunch at a new restaurant one day, Maynard develops hives on his body. He’s itchy all over — his eyes are red and his skin is driving him crazy.

Should Maynard visit the emergency room or urgent care?

Drag and drop Maynard to his proper care destination.

Maynard, an older gentleman, wearing a green top and tan shorts is scratching at his itchy skin.
Maynard, an older gentleman, wearing a green top and tan shorts.

After a hike, Serena trips on the way to her car. She tries to catch herself, but falls and hits her head on a post in the parking lot. As she drives home, she begins to wonder if her eyes are playing tricks — or is her vision blurry?

Should she head to the emergency room, or go to urgent care?

Drag and drop Serena to her proper care destination.

Serena, an orange haired woman wears a white top and green shorts, drives a car.
Serena, an orange haired woman wears a white top and green shorts

Jacob helps his mother with the dishes one night. As he reaches into the soapy water, a kitchen knife cuts his index finger badly. The cut is small and the bleeding stops, but he is worried that he might need stitches.

Jacob applies pressure and feels okay, but his mother wonders: should they go to the ER?

Drag and drop Jacob to his proper care destination.

Jacob, wearing a blue top, stands at the sink in the kitchen washing dishes.
Jacob, an older child stands wearing a Canadian Tuxedo.

One weekend while at home, Cecilia slips on the lawn and twists her ankle during a family cookout. After an hour of rest, she can put some weight on her foot but is still in pain. Cecilia doesn’t want to leave the festivities, but is concerned she may need care.

Should she go to the ER or urgent care?

Drag and drop Cecilia to her proper care destination.

Cecilia, an older woman rocking a coral top and high waisted purple pants, rubs at her sore ankle while sitting on a picnic table.
Cecilia, an older woman rocking a coral top and high waisted purple pants.

Sign up to see how you rank on the patient preparedness scale!

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Congratulations

You are well-informed and have a high patient preparedness

Not bad

You’re an informed health care consumer.

Your patient preparedness is low

And it’s always better to be prepared for the unexpected.

Nicole in a small circular frame

You were right! There's a better option. Nicole should go to the emergency room. Chest pain and shortness of breath can be the signs of a heart attack, and should be evaluated by experts at the emergency room.

Maynard in a small circular frame

You were right! There's a better option. Maynard should go to urgent care. Allergic reactions consisting of itching and hives can be treated effectively there. If Maynard developed lip, tongue or throat swelling, or shortness of breath, then he should go to the emergency room.

Serena in a small circular frame

You were right! There's a better option. Serena should go to the emergency room. Any head injury accompanied by loss of speech or coordination, vision changes, or weakness or numbness on one side of the body can be a sign of a serious brain injury and should be evaluated in the emergency room.

Jacob in a small circular frame

You were right! There's a better option. Jacob should go to urgent care because the majority of small cuts are able to be treated effectively there.

Cecilia in a small circular frame

You were right! There's a better option. Cecilia should go to urgent care because a sprained ankle, knee, wrist, or arm can all be cared for by urgent care professionals.

Take Quiz Again

It never hurts to be more informed — download our preparedness guide. While emergency rooms are open 24/7, not all health care issues require the high-level care provided there. ERs should only be used for true emergencies.

Download PDF

You can locate an urgent care facility through your local hospital. Can’t find one nearby? Click here to search for your local urgent care facility so you can continue to be ready for anything.

Don’t risk anything in the moment: download our preparedness guide. While emergency rooms are open 24/7, not all health care issues require the high-level care provided there. ERs should only be used for true emergencies.

Download PDF

You can locate an urgent care facility through your local hospital. Can’t find one nearby? Click here to search for your local urgent care facility so you can be ready for anything.

Download our preparedness guide. While emergency rooms are open 24/7, not all health care issues require the high-level care provided there. ERs should only be used for true emergencies.

Download PDF

You can locate an urgent care facility through your local hospital. Can’t find one nearby? Click here to search for your local urgent care facility so you can be ready for anything.