How to Choose Between Primary Care, Urgent Care and the Emergency Room

Choosing where to go for health care depends a lot on what you need care for and how sick or injured you are. This guide can help you get health care in the way that best fits your needs.

  • Always call 911 first if you feel your condition is life threatening. 
  • Your primary care doctor is the best person to help manage your health over time.
  • If you have a primary care doctor at UChicago Medicine, call their office to make an urgent appointment. 
  • To schedule an appointment, call 773-702-6840 (adult primary care), 773-702-6169 (pediatric primary care) or schedule an appointment online.

When to Seek Primary Care

Your primary care doctor should be your first call in non-emergency situations.

If you have a primary care doctor at UChicago Medicine, you can contact them for the following:

  • Video visit 
  • Check-up or physicals
  • Disease management
  • Immunization
  • Make an appointment
  • Non-emergency question
  • Prescription refill
  • Preventative testing
  • See test results

Adult Primary Care: 773-702-6840

Pediatric Primary Care: 773-702-6169

Schedule an Appointment

Use MyChart to:

  • Schedule a video visit 
  • Refill a prescription
  • Make an appointment
  • See test results
  • Non-emergency question

Learn more about our adult primary care locations

Learn more about our pediatric primary care locations

When to Seek Urgent Medical Advice or an Appointment

Contact your primary care team for urgent medical advice or an appointment. This is the best choice for treating minor illnesses and injuries.


Video Visits

Make an Appointment


Adult Primary Care: 773-702-6840

Pediatric Primary Care: 773-702-6169

*For infants less than 2 months old, call to talk to your doctor.

Get advice 24 hours a day and appointments during daytime hours.

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cough and congestion
  • Dehydration
  • Ear pain
  • Eye redness, discharge or itchiness
  • Fever
  • Flu-like symptoms (general body aches and pains with fever)
  • Painful urination
  • Rashes
  • Small cuts that may require stitches
  • Sore throat
  • Sprains and strains
  • Throwing up or diarrhea (watery stools)
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath

When to Seek Emergency Care

If you are dealing with a health emergency, call 911 or go the emergency room right away.

Emergency care is the right choice for treating conditions such as:

  • Chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • Pain in the left arm or the jaw
  • Sudden weakness or dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Severe headache
  • Weakness or numbness on one side of the face or body
  • Loss of consciousness (passing out)
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Head or eye injury
  • Serious burns
  • Broken bones and dislocated joints
  • Very bad cuts that may need stitches
  • Fainting or change in mental state
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy