When you're sick or injured, it's not always clear what kind of medical care you need, especially when these situations happen at night or on the weekend. While there are many ways you can access care these days, the following 1-2-3 approach is generally a good rule of thumb depending on the severity of your condition:
- Reach out to your primary care provider first if you have one, or schedule a virtual appointment
- Visit Urgent Care after hours, on weekends, or for concerns that are urgent, but not necessarily an emergency
- Head to the emergency room (ER) or call 911 for severe or life-threatening issues
Start your care with your primary care provider
If you have a primary care provider, they're typically the best place to start because they already manage your care, know your medical history and have full access to your medical records. It's usually the lowest out-of-pocket option, and same-day or virtual appointments (video visits or e-visits) with your provider may be available.
You can see your primary care provider for many illnesses or injuries, including:
- urinary tract infection (UTI)
- upper respiratory congestion or infection (such as flu)
- sore throat
- sinus congestion or infection
- indigestion and heartburn (acid reflux)
- nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- minor cuts, scrapes and burns
- minor sprains and strains
Primary Care after hours and on weekends
If you need urgent medical care after hours or on the weekends that cannot wait until regular office hours, The Christ Hospital Physicians - Primary Care offices each have a doctor on call every evening and weekend for emergencies. Please remember the following before you contact the on-call physician:
- This option should only be used for urgent medical concerns that cannot wait until the next business day.
- Medication refills, test results and appointments can't be addressed through the on-call provider.
- Remove any call blocking options from your phone.
- Be ready with the phone number of a nearby 24-hour pharmacy.
On-demand video visits are another option for common conditions
If you don't have a primary care provider, or need care after hours, on weekends or holidays, 24/7 Video Visits are now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for common conditions including colds, cough and sinus issues, rashes and urinary tract infections. They're affordable, fast, secure, and don't require an appointment or previous visit with our Network. Sign up in advance, so you can be seen as quickly as possible whenever you need a visit.
Urgent care is for quick, non-emergency treatment
Urgent care is good when you need treatment fast but it's not an emergency. Go there if it's after hours or you can't wait for an appointment or the on-call doctor to return your call.
The Christ Hospital Urgent Care Centers treat everything your primary care provider treats and then some, and wait times are often shorter than at the emergency room (ER). We also now offer after-hours urgent care specifically for orthopedic conditions on our main campus.
Emergency care is for severe, life-threatening conditions
Even though the wait times are typically longer, the ER is where you need to go if you have a severe or life-threatening condition.
Emergency rooms (also called emergency departments) are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They offer the widest range of services for emergency, after-hours care, including diagnostic tests and access to specialists, but tend to be the most expensive care option.
Find out below when a visit to the ER might be necessary. If you are having a true medical emergency, do not hesitate to go to your closest ER or call 911.
You should call 911 or go to the ER if you:
- think you're having a heart attack or stroke
- have severe chest pain
- have severe or sudden abdominal pain
- have severe shortness of breath
- feel weakness or paralysis in an arm or leg
- lose consciousness
- can't control bleeding
- have severe difficulty swallowing
- have difficulty speaking
- have been in a serious accident
Still need help deciding which type of care you need? Reference our care and symptom guide.
Find a provider with The Christ Hospital Physicians - Primary Care near you.