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Primary Care vs. Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room: How to Decide

Posted by Johnson Memorial Health on Feb 2, 2016

When a sudden illness or accident strikes you, your child, or aging parent, it can be confusing and stressful to decide where to go for help.


Naturally, in severe or life-threatening emergencies we know to call 911. However, those times that fall in the gray area of "should I take my child to Urgent Care or the Emergency Room" can be fraught with worry and concern.

An emergency room visit can be more costly and time-consuming than a visit to an urgent or immediate care clinic. It can also be unnecessary. We have listed below a chart of common conditions and the most appropriate choice for each.

A good rule of thumb is the following:

Immediate or Urgent Care:  A serious but minor illness, injury, or condition that requires immediate attention and you are able to go to the clinic during hours of operation. 

Emergency Department: A severe illness, injury, or condition. Call 911 for paramedic and ambulance assistance.

JMH Immediate Care
(317) 346-2273
Johnson Memorial Emergency Room
(317) 736-2600
Allergies Immediate Care  
Asthma attack (minor) Immediate Care  
Asthma attack (severe)   Emergency Room
Bleeding that won’t stop   Emergency Room
Broken bone (bone sticking out of skin)   Emergency Room
Broken bone (if not sticking out of skin) Immediate Care  
Bronchitis Immediate Care  
Burn (severe)   Emergency Room
Burn (minor) Immediate Care  
Cast problem (soiled or wet)   Emergency Room
Colds Immediate Care  
Cough Immediate Care  
Cut (severe)   Emergency Room
Cut (minor) Immediate Care  
Dehydration    Emergency Room
Diarrhea   Immediate Care  
Dizziness Immediate Care  
Earache and ear infection Immediate Care  
Fainting   Emergency Room
Fever (infants less than 2 months old)   Emergency Room
Fever (children more than 2 months old) Immediate Care  
Headache Immediate Care  
Head Injury (minor and without loss of consciousness) Immediate Care  
Head injury     Emergency Room
Insect or minor dog bite Immediate Care  
Migraine headache   Emergency Room
Nausea Immediate Care  
Pink eye Immediate Care  
Pneumonia   Emergency Room
Poisoning   Emergency Room
Pregnancy-related issue   Emergency Room
Rash Immediate Care  
Seizure   Emergency Room
Shock   Emergency Room
Sore throat Immediate Care  
Sprain or strain Immediate Care  
Stitches Immediate Care  
Stomach pain (mild) Immediate Care  
Stomach pain (severe)   Emergency Room
Swallowed object   Emergency Room
Trouble breathing   Emergency Room
Urinary infection Immediate Care  

Sometimes accidents happen. Problems arise and there isn't any time to call and make an appointment. We understand completely and that’s why we have our Immediate Care Center to provide care for acute conditions on a walk-in basis. We want to offer you a quick diagnosis and treatment and get you back on your way.

An average visit to our Immediate Care Center takes only about 40 minutes and we have a physician onsite during all hours of operation. 

Besides the common conditions listed above, you can also get these other services without an appointment:

  • Sports Physicals
  • Urine Dips
  • X-Ray Services
  • Eye, Ear & Skin Irrigation
  • Pregnancy Testing
  • Foreign Body Removal
  • Rapid Strep Testing
  • DOT Physicals
  • Mono Spot Testing
  • Flu & Pneumonia Vaccines