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Urgent vs. Emergency Care: What You Need to Know

When should I call 911?

Call 911 immediately or go directly to the nearest emergency department for life-threatening conditions, such as: 

  • Chest pain (including the feeling of pressure or squeezing)
  • Stroke symptoms (slurred speech, numbness or weakness in part of your body, loss of balance or vision)
  • Head injury
  • Dilated pupils, or trouble waking up or staying awake
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizures
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
  • Bleeding that won't stop
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Broken bones
  • Major burns

Don't drive yourself to the hospital if you are suffering from chest pains, slurred speech (or any other stroke symptoms), experiencing heavy bleeding, if you feel like you might faint, or your vision is impaired. Call 911. EMS professionals can begin treating you as soon as they arrive, especially when minutes and seconds count.

Urgent Care and Walk-in Clinics

Urgent care and walk-in clinics provide medical treatment of illnesses or injuries that require immediate attention but are not life-threatening. Call your primary care provider first if you can. They can often determine over the phone if you need immediate care and where best to go.

If you can’t get in immediately to see your primary care doctor, don’t have a doctor, or are visiting from out of town, you can walk in for medical care and avoid an expensive and unnecessary trip to the emergency department. 

General Urgent Care

St. Luke's has in-person urgent care clinics as well as virtual urgent care for a variety of non-life-threatening conditions:

  • Fever
  • Ear pain
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Respiratory illness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Urinary infection
  • Sprains and strains
  • Puncture wounds and lacerations
  • Minor burns
  • Minor sports and orthopedic injuries

Orthopedic Urgent Care

St. Luke's also offers orthopedic urgent care in Boise for a variety of conditions:

  • Sports injuries
  • Sprains, strains, and dislocations
  • Suspected fractures
  • Ligament tears
  • Cast or splint issues
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Overuse injuries
  • Painful, swollen joints
  • Pediatric injuries

On-Demand Virtual Care Now Available!

Access Virtual Care Services Wherever You Are

St. Luke's now offers on-demand virtual care services seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., if appropriate depending on your symptoms. 


If you're an existing St. Luke's patient, simply log in to your MyChart account, answer a few questions about your symptoms, and begin a virtual visit with the next available St. Luke's primary care provider.


You may still have to wait a bit, as you would at an in-person urgent care clinic, but you'll be waiting wherever you choose.