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Emergency Room or Urgent Care?

Not sure if you need to go to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care? The decision is an important one.

ER or Urgent Care

The words “life-threatening” should be your basis when deciding if your situation needs an ER or Urgent Care visit. Too often patients will go to the Emergency Room for symptoms that could have been taken care of in Urgent Care. The price difference in an Urgent Care vs. ER visit is staggering – while the Emergency Room can help care for any medical situation, it costs an average of three times more than a visit to Urgent Care. So, when should you go to the ER? When should you go to Urgent Care? Here are some guidelines to help you decide:


  • Allergic reactions to food, animal or bug bites
  • Broken bones
  • Chest pain
  • Constant vomiting
  • Continuous bleeding or large open wound
  • Vaginal bleeding with pregnancy
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Deep wounds
  • Weakness or pain in a leg or arm
  • Head or eye injuries
  • Unconsciousness

The ER is meant to treat true emergencies and life-threatening situations – if you have a true emergency, go to your nearest Emergency Room or call 9-1-1.


  • Sore throats, sinus infections, coughs and other minor illnesses
  • Sprains, strains, fractures and dislocations
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Abdominal and back pain
  • Migraines
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Asthma and COPD exacerbation
  • Cuts and minor burns
  • Skin rashes and infections
  • Post-surgical infections
  • IV hydration and IV antibiotic administration
  • Infusions

Urgent Care is meant to treat many non-life-threatening situations. If you’re unable to see your Primary Care Provider or need to see a physician on a weekend or holiday, Urgent Care is a great alternative.

The Iowa Clinic Urgent Care is equipped to treat all of the conditions listed above. We have locations in Ankeny and West Des Moines. We are open 7 days a week with an average wait time of less than 30 minutes.

Monday – Friday: 7 AM – 7 PM  |  Saturday/Sunday: 8 AM – 3 PM


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