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Healthy You

When do I go to Immediate Care or the ER?

It can be difficult to determine when to go to an Immediate Care Center, the Orthopaedic Immediate Care or the Emergency Room. Below is a breakdown of when and where you should go to receive attention for your immediate medical care need.


Immediate Care Centers

Licensed experts staff our Immediate Care Centers. They are trained to evaluate and treat a variety of medical conditions in both adult and pediatric patients. Lab orders, tests and imaging are done if needed afterthe patient has been ealuated. Seek attention at an Immediate Care Center if you are in need of or experiencing the following:

  • Common illnesses such as allergies, nausea, sore throat, sinus conditions or headaches
  • Minor injuries such as broken bones or fractures, sprains and strains, cuts or burns
  • Vaccinations such as tetanus or influenza

Orthopaedic Immediate Care Sites

Orthopaedic Immediate Care Sites are staffed with board-certified orthopaedic physicians, and on-site laboratory and radiology services to ensure you receive the care you need. Seek medical care at one of our Orthopaedic Immediate Care Sites if you are experiencing the following urgent orthopaedic conditions:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Fractures
  • Injury involving bones, muscles, joints or injuries
  • Injuries to the neck, back, shoulder, elbow, hand, hip, knee, ankle or foot
  • Sports-related injuries including head injuries and concussions

Emergency Room

The Emergency Room is available for severe conditions that may require additional expertise from surgeons or other medical professionals. The Emergency Room is staffed with licensed physicians and surgeons with a variety of expertise and support staff. Seek care here if you are experiencing a medical emergency including:

  • Severe chest pain
  • Severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Suspected poisoning
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Confusion or change in mental status
  • Sudden fainting, dizziness, numbness or weakness
  • Coughing or vomiting up blood
  • A broken bone, puncturing the skin
  • Injury to head or neck
  • Extreme high fever

No one is ever turned away from the Emergency Room and every circumstance is unique, but you must evaluate how serious your condition is and proceed to where you find you would get the best care by using your best judgment. For your convenience, NorthShore has six Immediate Care Centers, four Orthopaedic Immediate Care Sites and four Emergency Rooms throughout Cook and Lake Counties.

If you require emergency medical attention, please call 911 to access your local emergency services.