Urgent care vs. the emergency room

Find out where to go for sudden health care needs.

Emergency care can save your life if you’re critically sick or injured. For less severe complaints, you may get faster and less expensive treatment by heading to an urgent care center.


Urgent care

Urgent care centers treat a wide variety of illnesses and injuries. To find out if an urgent care visit is needed, contact your primary care physician (PCP) first. Your PCP’s contact information is listed on the front of your Sharp Direct Advantage member ID card.

When to go to urgent care

  • Sprains or strains of your arms or legs
  • Broken bones where you don’t see an obvious deformity
  • Headaches that are not typical for you
  • Sore throat, cough, flu or low-grade fevers
  • Minor burns
  • Cuts that may need a few stitches
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Most low back pain

Emergency room

If an illness or injury is severe or if you need care immediately, the emergency room (ER) is the right choice. ERs are equipped and staffed to handle complex and critical care needs.

When to go to the emergency room

  • Traumatic injuries from a vehicle accident or fall
  • Complex fracture with a bone protruding through the skin
  • Sudden or severe headaches
  • Chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • Significant head injury
  • Suspected heart attack or stroke
  • Poisonings; drug or alcohol issues
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Seizures

Urgent care when you’re home vs. away

When you’re home in our plan service area: Urgent care visits must take place at an urgent care center in your plan medical group. Remember to call your PCP first before you visit urgent care. Virtual urgent care is also offered through both Sharp Community and Sharp Rees-Stealy.

When you’re away outside our plan service area: Visit a convenient urgent care center near you. After your urgent care visit, your PCP may want to see you when you return.


Send a message to Customer Care, or call us at the phone number on the back of your Sharp Direct Advantage member ID card.

Sharp Direct Advantage is offered by Sharp Health Plan. Sharp Health Plan is an HMO with a Medicare contract. Enrollment with Sharp Health Plan depends on contract renewal. Read the full disclaimer.

H5386_2024 Medicare Website_Rev6

Page Last Updated: 5/08/2024
  • 1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
  • 3/12/2024 10:09:51 PM
  • 5/8/2024 8:16:45 PM
  • 1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM